South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional network of human rights defenders, express concern on the decision of the Indian Government to call off Foreign Secretary Level talks with Pakistan which were scheduled to be held on August 25th in Islamabad.
We believe that only a sustained dialogue can resolve the contentious issues and misunderstandings that envelope India – Pakistan relations. The reaffirmation by both sides of their intention to promote regional cooperation is appropriate and necessary,and essential towards peace and cooperation in South Asia.
SAHR regrets that while independence was won through non-violent struggles, South Asia has been the site of conflicts, prolonged disputes, sectarian violence and terrorism. The failure of India and Pakistan to resolve long standing disputes has perpetuatedhostility, the costs of which are evident in the absence of regional cooperation and repudiation of peoples’ rights to natural resources, for trade and investment as well as for freedom of movement. Increasingly, severe visa regulations have become an impediment to the free movement of people. Thousands are arrested at the borders or while fishing in the deep sea. Many have been killed by border forces.
In the past SAHR has played an important convening role in South Asia and initiated peace dialogues and discussions on prospects for peace and cooperation in the region. We believe that all sections of society can play a positive role to encourage both sides to engage in a continuous and fruitful process of confidence building to resolve serious issues.
SAHR believes that the people of India and Pakistan, as well as the rest of South Asia, aspire for peace and the Governments should make this peace a real possibility.
We call on the Indian Government to initiate steps to restart the Foreign Secretary Level talks with Pakistan and create a basis for sustained dialogue at the highest levels to resolve the contentious issues and misunderstandings between the two countries.
On behalf of South Asians for Human Rights,
Hina Jilani – Chairperson
Dr. Nimalka Fernando – Co-Chairperson