A delegation of prominent Indians including journalists, parliamentarians, artists and academics visiting Pakistan hopes that their trip will give a much needed impetus to the peace process between India and Pakistan.
They include veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, prominent film producer Mahesh Bhatt, parliamentarian Dr Bhalchandra Mungekar, former parliamentarian and Urdu columnist Shahid Siddiqui, journalist Jatin Desai, coordinator of the Confederation of Voluntary Associations Mazher Hussain, prominent women's rights activist Kamla Bhasin, journalist Seema Mustafa, Haris Kidwai, Ramesh Yadev, and Sanjay Nahar (see pen sketches for details).
During their visit, the delegation is meeting people from various backgrounds in Karachi, Hyderabad, Islamabad and Lahore -- students, top political leaders, senior government officials, civil society members, academics, youth, fishermen, lawyers, media and others.
This visit follows a series of several such initiatives aimed at pushing the governments to resume the peace process interrupted after the Mumbai attacks of November 2008. Subsequently, a Pakistani peace delegation comprising Asma Jahangir, I. A. Rehman, Karamat Ali and others visited India and met civil society members, journalists and law-makers. This initiative was followed by a visit to Pakistan by Indian delegates including Kuldip Nayar, Salman Haidar (former foreign secretary, who has also been involved in the Aman ki Asha Strategic Seminar series), Mahesh Bhatt, Swami Agnivesh, and Kamla Bhasin to urge a resumption of dialogue.
The decision of both countries to finally resume dialogue has been widely hailed. The meeting of home secretaries from both countries in Delhi on March 28-29, 2011 will be the first structured bilateral secretary level meeting since the terrorists attack in Mumbai, followed by the foreign ministers' be meeting in Delhi in July.
"The dialogue should be uninterrupted and uninterruptible," contends a joint statement issued by Indian and Pakistani delegates at a round table on Sunday, March 20, on "Strategising Civil Society's Role in Peace Process: Identifying Priority Issues/Areas and Interventions," jointly organized by Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC) and Pakistan-India Peace Forum for Peace and Democracy in Karachi.
The delegates unanimously demanded that the Indian and Pakistani governments should release all the civilian prisoners including fishermen as a goodwill gesture. Furthermore, instead of arresting fishermen and confiscating each other's trawlers and launches, only warnings be issued to fishermen who cross the maritime borders.
Both countries should also "liberalise visa regime, revive the India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners, open trade, reduce military expenditure and urgently implement the already resolved disputed issues like Siachen, Sir Creek."
The statement appeals to Pakistan government to grant Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India. Noting that India produces world class and cost-effective medicines, whereas Pakistani surgical industry produce export quality surgical goods, the statement urges Pakistan to allow import of Indian medicines and suggests that Indian doctors be encouraged to buy Pakistani surgical goods.
MILNE DO: Both countries should document the divided families and grant the members of such families five-year multiple entry visas. Tourist visas should also be opened up and "should be made easily available. Visas should be issued to senior citizens and children on their arrival."
Students and youth should be encouraged to study in each other's colleges and universities, and visa conditions "should be relaxed for students and teachers".
" Many people, belonging to various segments of Indian society, sincerely wish that Pakistan wriggles out of its current quagmire. It is a great change in the mindset of Indian people and I can say that it is the same with people in Pakistan "
- Kuldip Nayar, journalist,
"Certain elements in both countries constantly try to derail the peace process... And certain countries are supplying arms to both India and Pakistan. Peace between India and Pakistan is a nightmare for these dealers of death"
- Shahid Siddiqui, editor of Urdu daily Naya Daur, former Member of the Indian parliament
"The majority of people in India want a positive change in the relationship. We are two nations, but the people are one. Why remain on the warpath? With 35 and 39 percent population in India and Pakistan living below the poverty line, the continued hostility is absurd. Kashmir is a problem, but there is no problem that does not have a solution "
- Dr Bhal Chandra Mungekar, economist, MP from Mumbai and
former vice chancellor of Bombay
"People in North India and Pakistan have bonds of language and culture, but the people in South India have no such relation. This has been a fact-finding mission for me. Now I want to have more interaction with Pakistani people. It is a sheer pleasure for me
- Prof Yarlagadda Laxmi Prasad, MP from South India
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
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Page 80 of 175
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