Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2014
The South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) is concerned by the continuing firing between Pakistani and Indian security forces across the Line of Control and the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir, says a press release.
Civilian casualties have been reported from both sides in several incidents of firing and mortar shelling since Oct 1.
“Life in the border-area villages is once again disrupted and villagers on both sides of the LoC and the working boundary have to flee from their homes. Those who stay 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,” it says.
As livelihoods are once again under threat and the survival for these communities made even more challenging, 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.
SAHR urges the governments of India and Pakistan to halt the ceasefire violations and 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, it says.
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, it demands.
The rights group 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.
It 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 social progress. It 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.
“We hope the prime ministers of the two countries will 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,” the press release says.