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Need for Continuous dialogue between India and Pakistan underlined

by Pakistan Peace Coalition, Sindh Democratic Front (SDF), 3 March 2010

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Peace and human rights activists, politicians and journalists on Tuesday [2nd of March 2010] condemned increase in military budgets in both India and Pakistan and asked the people of both the countries to unite each other for peace, progress and development of this region. These speakers were speaking at a dialogue on “Pak-India Dialogue: Civil Society Follow up & Future Prospects” jointly organized by Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC), Sindh Democratic Front (SDF) and Karachi Press Club at Najeeb Ahmed Terrace of KPC.

The speakers stressed the need that dialogue should be continued for solution of all the issues between India and Pakistan. A resolution passed on the occasion condemned increase in Military budget by India and drastic cut in Public Sector Development Programme by Pakistan government. Speakers demanded both India and Pakistan to relax visa policies so that people can meet with each other. He asked why the issues, which are already settled are not implement like opening up consulates in Mumbai and Karachi, initiation of ferry service between Mumbai and Karachi. “This is anti-people policy to restrict visas system.”

According to them Kashmir issue would not be solved in the first phase, so the other issues should be settled first through a continuous dialogue. Free access to people, free trade and media be allowed, then Kashmir issue can be resolved. Those who want to solve Kashmir issue first, actually do not want to solve Kashmir issue. Jihadi elements have destroyed both the countries. In the first phase we have to accept LOC as international border. They said no one can use atomic bomb on its neighbours. Those who would use atomic bomb would also destroy themselves. “We cannot give 1.5 billion people in the hands on adventurists. “We should declare this region free from nuclear weapons. If you want 1.5 billion people live alive, they should leave Siachin heights, where water resources are located.

In Pakistan social sector allocations are the lowest in the world, even allocations in backward countries is more. Military expenditures should be reduced and budget of social sector should be increased. According to him more than 60 percent population in this region is living below poverty line. Arms cannot be deterrents.

Speakers called upon the organizations and individuals to unite together for peace in South Asian region.

He said after a long time a meeting of Foreign Secretaries was held in New Delhi but that remained fruitless. Within few days India has increased its defence budget. Pakistan had earlier diverted its budget allocations of development projects for security and defence purposes. People of both the countries are living below poverty line. He quoted Indian official figures which pointed out that 80 percent people are earning less than US$ 2 per day. Similar official figures were also stated by Pakistani Prime Minister. But unofficial figures are more than that as an overwhelming majority of people are living below poverty line. All social indicators have been deteriorated. Militarisation, religious extremism and terrorism have increased in both the countries. There is direct link between poverty and militarization and extremism, they added.

After Mumbai attacks relationship between the two countries became tense. Some people think through military might our country can become developed, but at the cost of people. They He recalled in 2005, a Pakistani parliamentary delegation went to New Delhi, where Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spent one and half hour with the delegation. Singh pointed out that there is clear understanding on many issues between two countries. He promised that from next year his country would not increase defence budget and it would gradually decrease. He said two issues Siachin and Sir Creek were mutually agreed to solve. But during that time Indian Army chief issued a brief statement that time has not come to solve Siachin issue and since then Manmohan Singh has not visited.

They said civilian rulers have no powers in both the countries. Our permanent establishment does not want peace in this region. When both the countries had made nuclear weapons, it was said we would reduce budget of conventional weapons, but since 1998 the defence budgets of both the countries have increased by five to six-fold on conventional weapons. Budgets on nuclear weapons are secrete and are not released to the public. In defence weapon deals huge corruption is involved. A big lobby is involved in continuous tension between the two countries. After Mumbai incidents US sold weapons worth US15 billion to Pakistan and India alone. India purchased weapons worth US$10 billion.

They said people should stand up and raise their voice for peace. Rulers do not want that people should not challenge them. For example, he said Pakistan government had announced to raise minimum wages to Rs 6000 but it is unable to implement that decision. If we want prosperity in this region we should raise our voice.

Small elite wants to get benefit from this warlike situation. Half of our children in Pakistan are out of schools because the existing schools do not have capacity to receive all children. “We have to make sure that an insane person cannot push nuclear button,” he remarked. People of this region should unite themselves and fight against terrorism.

They further said that the establishments in both the countries do not want peace in this region. He said many countries in the region face internal unrest. Afghanistan, Srilanka and Nepal are facing internal wars. In India out of 510 provinces there is internal fighting in 225 provinces where Maoists movements are fighting. They said Peoples Party Government has earmarked Rs 70 billion under Benazir Income Support Programme. He said Indian people are also against its establishment like Pakistani people are against its establishment. We should promote peace and if people do not want war then there would be no war.

They further resolved said that the founder of Pakistan had rejected the religious bigotry. He quoted Quaid’s various speeches on many occasions. They provided a comparison of foreign policy by various rulers of Pakistan. He appreciated the foreign policy of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to engage India in dialogue. Musharraf handling with India was quite different from Nawaz Sharif and Benazir’s handling was different from Nawaz Sharif.

Musharraf approach was dictatorship, which annoyed Indian relationship. Nawaz Sharif’s approach was businessmen approach. Zardari initially followed Benazir’s approach and issued three great and revolutionary statements. But but hurdles were erected and now he issued statement of thousand year war with India, which is influenced by establishment’s policy. They said that whenever civil government comes in Pakistan the relationship between the two countries become tense because establishment does not want solution of this problem.

Our political leaders sometimes issue statements which do not create a friendly atmosphere. A particular group often sabotages the environment of peace. Democracy would become strong when peace would be restored, he added.

Secretary General of Pakistan People’s Party Sindh Taj Haider, Co Chairman of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Syed Iqbal Haider, Executive Director of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) Karamat Ali, Zafar Hilali, a senior diplomat and former Ambassador, Dr. Tausif Ahmed of Mass Communication department of Federal Urdu University, peace activist Ms. Sauleha Athar, Zulfiqar Halepoto of SDF, Shams Keerio of Karachi Press Club and Shujauddin Qureshi of PILER spoke on the occasion.

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Daily Times 3 March 2010