South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) is deeply concerned by the continuing firing between Pakistani and Indian security forces across the Line of Control and the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir. Civilian casualties, including women and children, have been reported from both sides in the several incidents of firing and mortar shelling since the 1st of October. Life in the border villages is once again disrupted and villagers on both sides of the LOC and the working borders have had to flee from their homes. Those who remain are under constant fear of death, destruction of their homes and killing of their cattle. Many of these villages are still in the process of recovering from the devastation wrought by the recent floods in the region. Livelihoods are once again under threat and the survival for these communities made even more challenging by resort to hostilities by both sides. SAHR is deeply disturbed by the apparent lack of respect by both skirmishing sides for the protection of civilian populations in accordance with international humanitarian law, and the binding principles of the duty to protect under international human rights law.
SAHR urges the governments of India and Pakistan to halt the ceasefire violations and to take recourse to talks at all levels of political and military decision making in order to diffuse the current environment of tension on the borders. The affected population can find no solace in any determination of who started what and where. Apportioning blame on the other by each side or provocative and threatening language by both political and military leadership of the two countries will not end the suffering of people who are in the line of fire. Time should be more usefully spent in immediate measures to cease the cross-border shelling. The essence of political leadership anywhere in the world is to bring peace where conflict threatens the prosperity and development of their populations. SAHR reminds the leadership of both countries that military means and methods have not and never will help the two countries to resolve any of the contentious issues between the two states.
SAHR congratulates Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, on winning the Nobel Prize for Peace. They both represent South Asia’s long-standing tradition of people’s movements for human rights, peace and for social progress. SAHR commends and endorses Malala’s call for ending hostilities at the borders between India and Pakistan and her plea to both nations to make peace a reality. SAHR hopes that both Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Sharif have taken note of her plea. We also hope that they will both respond positively to her request to be present at the award ceremony in December in order to demonstrate their common pride in the two South Asian Nobel laureates. At the same time, let the people of South Asia make this an occasion for strengthening our resolve for a collective struggle for the promotion and protection of human rights, for an end to intolerance, exclusion and discrimination and for regional solidarity.
On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights
Hina Jilani – Chairperson
Dr. Nimalka Fernando – Co-Chairperson