At a meeting in Lahore recently, the Pakistan Rangers and Indian Border Security Forces agreed to replace the erstwhile militarist gestures the border guards have been using, with 'smiles and friendly handshakes'.
In a joint statement issued last Friday simultaneously from Pakistan and India, civil society and peace activists noted they have been urging their governments for years "to put an end to the daily face-to-face show of bravado by the border guards at Wagah during the flag lowering ceremony, as if challenging each other."
"We are happy that the authorities on both sides have at long last realized the need for changing the character of the ceremony from a pointless display of power and bravery to a demonstration of goodwill and friendship towards each other," says the joint statement.
"In this context, we wholeheartedly welcome last week's decision by the Directors General (DGs) of Pakistan Rangers and Indian Border Security Forces in their meeting in Lahore to replace the erstwhile militarist gestures with 'smiles and friendly handshakes' by the border guards."
Emphasizing that this is not enough, the activists stressed that "much more needs to be done if the two governments are sincere in moving towards a relationship of genuine peace and friendship between the two countries."
They have urged both governments to take the following urgent steps, "without which the mere change of style at the Wagah ceremony will mean too little too late":
1 Remove all symbols of militarism such as tanks, missiles, guns, war planes etc displayed in public places like road junctions and parks in various towns and cities of the two countries.
2 Expunge all war-like propaganda and hate materials against each other from history books and other educational text books in the two countries.
3 In addition to releasing all the remaining fishermen detained in the two countries, orders be issued to maritime security authorities in both the countries not to arrest or detain the fishermen and their boats for inadvertently 'trespassing' into each other's territorial waters, but to let them go after administering a simple warning.
4 Citizens of the two countries, arrested for overstaying and other minor violations of travel rules and who have completed their terms of punishment, be released forthwith.
5 The Khokhrapar-Munabao border be opened for regular trade by rail and road between the two countries, in the same manner and with the same facilities as Wagah-Attari border has been functioning all these years. Visa restrictions for citizens of both India and Pakistan be eased particularly for bilateral trade, which may ultimately benefit in free trade between SAARC countries.
6 Exchange of newspapers and magazines between the two countries as well as TV news channels be restored as soon as possible.
Pakistani signatories to the statement include Karamat Ali (Piler), B M Kuty (Pakistan Labour Trust), Dr. Tipu Sultan (Pakistan Peace Coalition), Samina Khan (Sungi Development Foundation), Dr. A. H. Nayyar (Pakistan Peace Coalition), Mohammad Tahseen (SAP-Pk), Abdul Khaliq Junejo (JSQM), Syed Iqbal Haider (ex-Senator), Mohammad Ali Shah (Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum), Senator Hasil Khan Bizenjo and Sheema Kermani (Tehrik-e-Niswan).
Indian signatories include Kuldip Nayar (journalist), Mahesh Bhatt (filmmaker), Kamla Bhasin (Sangat), Admiral L. Ramdas (former Indian Navy Chief), Jatin Desai (Pakistan-India Peoples' Forum for Peace & Democracy Maharashtra), Mazher Hussain (COVA), and Meena Menon (Focus on the Global South)
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
KARACHI: A key member of the Indian cabinet, Kantilal Bhuria, is expecting President Asif Zardari's visit to India today to trigger a major breakthrou .....more
Hope springs eternal
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Vasundhara Chauhan on the delectable flavourful rasbhari, called amor en bolsa ("love in a bag") in Portuguese and 'cape gooseberry' by Anglophiles
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The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
We probably didn't need to do this Special Report. Newspaper stories don't matter when it comes to Indians in Pakistani jails and vice versa. In fact, 'vice versa' sums it up. We do to them what they do to us.
Except when the two countries decide to begin talking, yet again! This time a little before the foreign secretary level talks, some Pakistani prisoners were released by India (and vice versa must have happened) and some more were release....read more
For the past 2 years the Jang Group and Geo have been working on a project of great national interest; one that we hope will help usher in an era of peace and prosperity in the country and indeed, in the region. And one that hopefully all Pakistanis can be proud of. more
The Jang Group has entered into an agreement with the Times of India Group, the largest media group of India, to campaign for peace betw