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Aman Karwan - A Peace Mission From Pakistan

January 21-24, 2009, New Delhi

by Anhad, 26 January 2009

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A 20 member Peace Mission (Aman Karwan) from Pakistan visited India from January 21-24, 2009.

List of Delegates

  • Mr. Haji Muhammad Adeel (Senator Awami National Party)
  • Ms. Farzana Adeel (Wife)
  • Mr. Ali Haroon Shah (former member Provincial Assembly & member of working committee PML N)
  • Ms. Asma Jahangir (Chairperson HRCP)
  • Mr. Ibn Abdur Rehman (IA Rehman) Senior Journalist & Bureau member of South Asian for Human Rights (SAHR)
  • Ms. Salima Hashmi (Artist &Human Rights Activist)
  • Mr. Iqbal Haider (former Senator, Law Minister & Co-chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)
  • Ms. Syeda Maimanat Mohsin (Jugnu Mohsin) (Publisher and editor Friday Times)
  • Mr. Muhammad Tehseen ( Executive Director South Asia Partnership)
  • Mr. Brig (r) Rao Abid (Peace activist)
  • Mr. Dr. Abdul Hameed Nayyar (educationist research fellow SDPI)
  • Ms. Samina Bano Rahman (Women’s Action Forum)
  • Mr. Kamran Arif (HRCP & specialist on FATA and Northern Areas)
  • Ms. Mussarrat Hilali (Vice Chair NWFP, of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan)
  • Mr. Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed (former member National Assembly & PPP working committee)
  • Mr. Imtiaz Alam (Executive Director SAFMA)
  • Mr. Nusrat Javeed (Senior Journalist)
  • Mr. Mustansar Javed (Senior Journalist)
  • Mr. Munir Ahmed (Munoo Bhai) (Senior Columnist)
  • Dr. Hassan Askari Rizvi (Independent political and defense analyst)

For Media Coverage

  • Ms. Phyza Jameel (Bureau Chief CNBC Pakistan-Lahore)
  • Ms. Asma Sherazi (TV Journalist and encore person)

The Programme Schedule in Delhi

January 22, 2008

9.30-10.15 Meeting with Comrade AB Bardhan, General Secretary, CPI ( pak delegation)
11.00-1.00 Round Table, Deputy Chairman Hall, Constitution Club with policymakers from India
1.30-2.30 Lunch- Interaction with artists , intellectuals at the Consitution Club
1.30-2.00 Asma Jahnagir – On Karan Thapar’s programme
3.00-5.30 Public Meeting , Speaker’s Hall, Constitution Club, Rafi Marg, New Delhi
6.30-7.30pm Meeting with Karan Singh, Chairperson, Foreign Affairs Department, Congress, Jayanti Natarajan and Mohsina Kidwai- Ashoka Hotel
8.00-9.00pm Hum Log NDTV
9.30pm-10.00 AAj Tak/ Headlines today
8.30-10.00 Dinner hosted by SAFMA (South Asia Free Media Association) at the Press Club of India

January 23, 2008

11.00-12.00 Meeting with Shiv Shankar Menon, Foreign Secretary
11.00-1.00 Meetings with Member’s of the Media, members of Editor’s Guild at Magnolia, Habitat Centre, Lodi Road, New Delhi
10.00-12.00 Parallel meeting at Tagore Hall, Jamia University
3.00-4.00 Press Conference at the Press Club of India organised by Press Club of India
5.30-6.30 Meeting with Mulayam Singh Yadav
6.00pm-7.00pm Meeting with Prakash Karat , General Secretary CPI(M) (delegation)
6.00-7.00pm NDTV- We the people
8.00-9.00 Lok Sabha television
8.30pm Dinner hosted by Ram Jethmalani
10pm Meeting at JNU hosted by JNUSU

January 23, 2008

9.30-10.30 CNN-IBN
10.30-12.00 Meeting with IK Gujral, Former PM , India

Statement issued at the conclusion of their Peace Mission to New Delhi on 23 January 2009

The 26/11 attack on Mumbai has caused deep shock to people in Mumbai, elsewhere in India and in fact in the entire South Asia region. There has of course been an outpouring of sympathy for the victims and their families; but the attacks have led to a serious questioning amongst many as to the planning and execution of this act of terrorism, and to interrogations of security and culpability. In addition, the rapidly growing militancy in South Asia, particularly in Paksitan, is extremely worrying. Governments must co-operate in dealing with this dangerous menance and the Government of Pakistan has an obligation to play a key role.

SAHR, a network of human rights networks in the region issued a press statement immediately demanding investigations into the Mumbai incidents and its likely causes. In the aftermath of the hostile comments from one side and evasion from the other, SAHR Pakistan took an initiative for a Peace Mission from Pakistan to India to engage in dialogues with different groups of political leaders, professionals, civil society leaders, to share concerns of the emerging threats to democracy and peace in India and Pakistan and to create a climate for shared solutions.

The SAHR initiative received immediate support from many organizations and individuals in Pakistan, particularly SAFMA. In India, over 20 groups of activists who had been organizing meetings and rallies for peace de-escalating the tensions, welcomed the initiative. Indian peace activists welcomed the group in Amritsar and Delhi and organized a full programme to maximize the effectiveness of this initiative. We are in particular, grateful to ANHAD and SANGAT who joined SAHR in organizing the Peace Mission. The Peace Mission does not represent any government or political party, This has been a total people’s initiative.

On 21 January, 24 human rights defenders, including lawyers, political leaders, artists, writers, members of Parliament from different parts of Pakistan crossed the Wagah border on foot and flew into Delhi, where we were joined by our counterparts. To express their solidarity two SAHR members flew in from Bangladesh and Nepal. Between 22 and 23 January, the "South Asian Peaceniks" met with a large number of people. Before leaving Pakistan, we had met with the Pakistan Foreign Minister, and with leading political leaders from different political parties. In India, we had cordial meetings with Dr Karan Singh, Chairperson, Foreign Affairs Department of the Indian National Congress Party, AB Bardhan, the Secretary General of the Communist Party of India, Mulayan Singh Yadav, President, Samajwadi Party and Mr Shiv Shankar Menon, the Foreign Secretary,. Views were exchanged at a Round Table with leading policy analysts, academics, former members of the civil service, journalists to analyse possible plans of action which could be taken to defuse the situation, to start peace talks again and to press for action against the perpetrators. At a public meeting, as well as at meetings with artists, writers and cultural activists, several speakers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh affirmed the need for collective understanding.

The attack on Mumbai is not an isolated incident, similar incidents, not as well reported, have occurred elsewhere including several in Pakistan. In the Northwest of Pakistan, people are subjected to daily attacks by the Talebans, girls schools are being forcibly closed down. In Bangladesh too there have been grenade and bomb explosions. The threat of such attacks is to our entire region and not only to one country. Therefore it is important to share information, to build trust in each other and to act collectively. Most importantly, the Government of Pakistan and all major political parties in Pakistan whole heartedly condemned the Mumbai carnage and remain concerned at repercussions it has had on the relationship between India and Pakistan.

We have sensed continuing doubts in India about action from Pakistan Government and responses of the people of Pakistan. We share the anguish and trauma faced by the Indian people. We extend our sympathy and offer our cooperation. In fact, in many parts of Pakistan, even in small towns there have been expressions of concern to protest the grenade attacks which have taken so many lives. In Bangladesh and Nepal there have been expressions of solidarity with the people of Mumbai and India.

During our meetings with different groups of people we have come across many diverse voices. Some have been negative and untrusting, some have talked of "surgical strikes", but the overwhelming voices we have heard have expressed a strong need for peace and understanding, despite the deep sorrow and anguish they continue to have regarding the Mumbai attacks.

The " Peace Mission" welcomes these voices because we are convinced that there cannot be a military answer, it would not only destroy Pakistan’s newly emerging democratic process, it would also set back all our societies economically and make us vulnerable to global power politics. Moreover, it would not affect the machinery of terrorists. On the contrary it would give victory to the authors of Mumbai. We call for a greater sharing of information and understanding amongst ourselves and call upon our governments to facilitate the process of cooperation. We call for a renewal of the peace process.

Despite the war mongering from different quarters within India and Pakistan we recognize and appreciate the restrained expressions from the Government of India. During our briefing with the Foreign Minister of Pakistan he too assured us that the Government of Pakistan will be thoughtful of its public statements. This is an encouraging sign but we realize that results alone will bring sustainable peace.

We thank the media which has given our mission of peace much space. We have been able to reach a wider public. At the same time we regret that the Press Trust of India circulated a report to different papers, covering a meeting where no journalist was present as it was a private exchange of views. We would urge the media to play a constructive and responsible role in promoting peace in the region.

SAHR will continue the process of deeper engagement between the people of South Asia so that decision making in the region comes from within. We are encouraged that a similar mission will be visiting Pakistan.

Finally, SAHR will continue to call for all acts of terrorism including the one in Mumbai to be thoroughly investigated and perpetrators of such acts be brought to justice in a free, fair and transparent manner. We believe that in order to sustain peace governments will also have to invest much more towards peace make the process transparent so that the people of South Asia can enjoy its benefits and dividends.

New Delhi
- 23 January, 2009

SAHR-SAFMA Peace Mission to New Delhi
- Let People Unite Against Terrorism and War

- Lahore-New Delhi: 21-24 January, 2009

The South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) and South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) have jointly decided to take a Peace Mission from Pakistan to New Delhi from 21st to 24th January 2009. The 22-Member Delegation will interact with civil society, media and political leadership of India to stress the need to keep the peace process going, jointly fight the scourge of terrorism at all levels and in every manner and avoid war in the best interest of the peoples of India and Pakistan. The Peace Mission will explore the possibilities of reciprocation by the civil society of India.

The Peace Mission condemns, unequivocally and unreservedly the November 26 terrorist attack in Mumbai as a most heinous crime against innocent people. We share the grief of the families of victims and the people of India whose friendship we cherish. Unfortunately, this outrage has brought India and Pakistan to a dangerous crossroads and we hope we will not be diverted from the path of peace. The two countries must not allow the terrorists to hijack the peace agenda. They must resume the Composite Dialogue process, and the sooner the better. War or even a state of suspended hostility between India and Pakistan will blight the whole region’s future.

India’s rage after Mumbai was justified and the world had sympathy for it. When Pakistan revealed its hurt it didn’t wash with the world and ended with bringing Pakistan’s democratic experiment under tremendous strain. Unfortunately the media on both sides did not pay due heed to the long-term interests of the subcontinent’s teeming millions.

After passing through a denial mould, Pakistan has acknowledged that the surviving Mumbai raider came from Pakistan which it should have accepted much earlier. Subsequently, the interior ministry has ordered an investigation and vowed to bring the culprits to justice. We hope the investigation will be thorough and fair and the Pakistan establishment will take all possible measures not to let anyone use its soil for murderous games. Meanwhile, India must eschew anger and get Pakistan to engage in negotiations on the basis of verified facts of the Mumbai attack. Whoever planned the Mumbai carnage wanted to foment conflict between India and Pakistan and prevent the latter from securing peace in its north western regions. They did succeed partially, but they must not be allowed any further success.

We appreciate the role of the international community in helping to defuse the situation and yet the South Asian context remains relevant. It is important that both India and Pakistan accept a South Asian cooperative methodology of resolving inter-state disputes. The wisdom may not appear realistic at the moment but it is unassailable. We must insist on evolving a SAARC mechanism for looking after our common problems.

Mumbai should not threaten Indo-Pak relations, nor should it endanger South Asia. It should compel South Asia to seek solutions to problems that are bound to become more trans-border than they are now. Terrorism is spreading like a disease. It has engulfed Afghanistan, a SAARC member, and has spread to most of Pakistan too. Some traces of it are already visible in India where a majority of the South Asian population lives. Instead of accusing each other of terrorism, the SAARC states must get together and discuss it as a common problem. A regional consensus against terrorism and extremism and a common strategy to fight it – that is the only answer.

It is only in this context that SAARC states could ask one another for the surrender of terrorists guilty of cross-border outrages. There are two possible reactions to trouble as it looms on the horizon. One is to build high walls and block communication so that calamity stays on the other side of the border. This has not worked and may work even less in the days to come. The only casualties are the peace process and the truth. The other way is to open up the region to trade routes and transport networks allowing free movement of people, goods and information. The SAARC protocols on terrorism need to be made more effective.

The Mumbai attack was paradigmatic, which means patterns of behaviour must change fundamentally now for the sake of survival of SAARC states. This change cannot come through war. It must come through cooperation at both bilateral and regional levels. India and Pakistan must strengthen Joint Anti-terrorism mechanism. On the other hand, SAARC must evolve regional mechanisms and institutions to collectively fight terrorism, cross-border crimes, smuggling, narcotics trade and evolve a judicial forum to prosecute the terrorists and criminals wanted by one state or the other. We must forge friendship and burry the hatchet for ever. We wish India well, so should you Pakistan. The people must unite against terrorism and war and persuade their governments to forge unity against the common enemy.

Imtiaz Alam
- Secretary General, SAFMA

Asma Jehangir
- SAHR-HRCP, Pakistan