South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Participants at an intellectual dialogue between India and Pakistan, organized by the South Asian Free Media Association, called on their countries to show restraint on the border, and to hold talks. Due to heightened tension between the two countries, only 12 Indian delegates were able to make the journey to Islamabad, out of the 45 plus invited.

SAFMA Secretary General Imtiaz Alam said a strong Pakistan would augur well for India, which should strengthen Pakistan’s democratically elected government by shunning the jingoism spread by certain parties for their political exigency and by the media for their commercial interests. He urged the prime ministers of both countries to restart the dialogue process.
Baraj Mohan, an Indian newspaper and television journalist, said both India and Pakistan were ignoring basic issues of their people.
Economist Pervez Tahir said India and Pakistan needed to show flexibility and open trade building upon the complementarities the two countries had.
Columnist Kamran Shafi lamented that India and Pakistan, two nuclear powers, lack basic infrastructure and stressed that peace is the only way forward.
Indian journalist Jasdeep Singh Malhotra called for efforts to remove misconceptions in people on both sides of the border about each other through information and people exchanges.
Noted journalist and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Secretary-General I. A. Rehman said both the countries were celebrating their independence on August 14 and 15 as 40 per cent of their peoples were living below poverty line. The countries that had got freedom after India and Pakistan had progressed much more, giving respect and prosperity to their peoples. He said both countries recently talked of easing visa regime but it had become more difficult than ever.

Veteran Indian journalist Chanchal Manohar Singh said that dialogue was the only way out of the morass. He criticised the Indian media for fanning jingoism against Pakistan and spreading hatred. Pakistani media too follow suit and start propaganda by ignoring national interest.
He said there should be peace and friendship between the two countries as they had obtained nothing by castigating and attempting to harm each other.

“Around 30 per cent of our people are living below the poverty lines but we are buying weapons. We should think of our poor,”

he added.
He criticised Indian politicians, noting that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) whose prime minister had come to Pakistan for friendship was now talking of avenging the killing of five soldiers, building pressure on the Congress.

“We do not suspect your prime minister’s intentions for peace but we cannot ignore the murder of our soldiers,”

he said.
Indian journalist Jasdeep Singh Malhotra said that the peoples of both countries want friendship and are not part of the jingoism. A strong, democratic Pakistan will benefit India. He condemned Indian media for creating tension. Pakistanis had voted for Nawaz Sharif because he had talked of peace with India. Manmohan Singh should do the same and Indians would support him, he said.
Former diplomat Khalid Mehmood said Pakistan and India had been talking about resolving the Kashmir dispute from 2003 to 2007, and can can again sit together for peace. Pakistan was committed to peace that could be ensured if there was corresponding response from India.
Political analyst Najam Sethi said Pakistan and India should avoid a conflict to gain control in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US forces in 2014 as this would destroy both countries.
Economist Dr Akmal Husain said that South Asia is the most vulnerable region to the consequences of climate change. He quoted the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) report, which notes that South Asia with its heavy reliance on monsoons, critical dependence on agriculture and persistent mass poverty is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change. All countries in the region, especially Pakistan and India, must work together to fight the imminent environment catastrophe, he stressed.
A resolution adopted at the seminar urged both the countries to maintain peace at the Line of Control (LoC), prevent any sort of intervention or conflict and continue with the composite dialogue.
It urged prime ministers of both the countries to meet in New York next month. It asked media to avoid jingoism and fanning the tension. The resolution welcomed the Indian guests. It also paid tributes to those who had laid down their lives for the independence of both countries and demanded a peace park at the Wagah-Attari border.
Source: The News, 21/08/2013:,-urge-Indians,-Pakistanis