Let the people meet, travel, and trade
Wednesday, September 04, 2013
Participants at a discussion in Lahore on India Pakistan relations organised by members of People’s Saarc in August agreed that the two countries should not hold their agreements hostage to border tensions. The improved visa regime that has been upon must be implemented without delay, along with improved bilateral trade. These are among the most important factors of Indo-Pak rapprochement.
Participants of the discussion included Farooq Tariq of the Labour Party Pakistan, Saeeda Diep, Institute for Peace and Secular Studies, Beena Sarwar, Editor Aman ki Asha, Jang Group, M. Yousaf Balouch, National Trade Unions Federation and Pakistan Workers Confederation, M. Waseem, Interactive Resource Centre, Khalid Malik, Labour Education Foundation and others. Young activists from the newly formed group Amal Pakistan as well as others were also present.
The biggest hindrance the peace, said participants, is the restrictive visa policy, prevents people from meeting and interacting.
One participant took note of the ongoing propaganda that “India has released water”. “This is baseless propaganda; there has been a lot of rain, they are flooded too.”
“I am from the 1947 generation,” said trade unionist Usman Balouch. “After 1965 realised, I the futility of war and hatred.”
Some of those present said they planned to celebrate the birthday of freedom figher Bhagat Singh, on Sept 27 this year. They were hopeful that the family members of Bhagat Singh would be allowed to attend the event. Someone recalled the late PPP activist Zaheer Bajwa who over two decades ago had named his son Bhagat Singh.
Partiicpants agreed that Pakistan should consider importing power supply from India in order to eliminate the current energy crisis.
They pointed out that Pakistani textbooks are rife with factual errors, distortion of history and bias against various religions and nations, particularly, India. This must be corrected.
Encouraging art and cultural exchanges between India and Pakistan can make a great difference in the mainstream peace process. Additionally, collective mechanisms need to be set up to protect the artists from extremist forces in order to maintain a sustained exchange of art and culture, they said.
The celebration of Bhagat Singh’s birthday on Sept 27 is planned to be held at the Dyal Singh Library in Lahore, with cake and candles, and seminar.