Peace Lovers and the Indo-Pak Disputes
by Syed Atiq ul Hassan
A friend of mine and a generous contributor of interesting material on various issues to the international media groups recently forwarded me an interesting news item through e-mail that Global Peace & Nonviolence group in India is observing a Violent Resistance Week from Feb 27 to March 5 in India. According to their programme the group, during a week-long campaign, will hold anti-violence and peace-making awareness campaign in their localities. They will present memorandum to Indian Prime Minister, demanding a national policy on security, safety and dignity of all citizens against caste, communal and terrorism without discrimination. They will protest to the government that the terrorists and communalists must be dealt with the same ferocity, bring murderers to justice, weed out communal elements from law and enforcement agencies and ensure equitable representation of all communities in the establishment. The members will organize Shaanti events where they collectively sing dohas of sufis and saints and read passages on struggles of people for peace and harmony. The Group will also conduct door to door campaign and distribute memorandum to the politicians and heads of various governmental organizations stressing them to bring justice and peace in the country.
This is a great initiative which should also be carried-out in across the border in Pakistan. And the agenda must also be expanded to include the anti-war movement between Pakistan and India. The recent anti-war protest, almost in every major city of the world against US-Britain war lunacy on Iraq substantiates that (1) the majority in this world wants peace (2) The demonstration by the silent majority can build-up great resistance against those war mongers who believe military might be able to bring their dreams true to control others territory, freedom and resources. The anti-war campaign by millions of peace activists around the world is a clear message to the worlds bullies that the majority of this globe oppose to war and terrorism of any kind.
Like in other parts of the world, India and Pakistan have also been inherited the territorial conflict by the Britain colonialism in the form of the dispute on Kashmir. In the last 50 years Pakistan and India fought three wars. Both the countries are in the race of stockpiling the dangerous weapons and justifying their deeds by the blames of threat and fear on each other. Both the countries, miserably and quite consistently, failed to provide the very basic services to their people but spent enormous amount of their budget on arms build-up especially the nuclear arsenals. India, who has the second largest population in the world, spends 25 to 30% of its budget on defense; on the other hand Pakistan - who since creation, most of the time ruled by army - spends 74% of its budget on defense. The flashpoint issue is remain the Kashmir which is referred today as disputed territory but historically a unique and gorgeous land, where Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists once lived in relative peace and harmony. Kashmir used to be a home of a culturally tolerant and religiously hybrid people, and a center of Sufism in the subcontinent. Today, Kashmir holds the most victimized and oppressed people on earth.
Unfortunately, since the partition, the rulers of both India and Pakistan valued the solution of the Kashmir dispute in their own interest rather than in the benefit of the people of Kashmir. Neither India which controls the State through its forces, nor Pakistan which backs and provides all sorts of assistance to Kashmiri fighters, taking care about the aspirations and desires of the Kashmiri people. According to the international human rights commissions reports about 70,000 innocent people have lost their lives in the past several decades.
Yet, neither Indian nor Pakistani government wants to show any sign of flexibility in their assertions. The Superpowers, China, Russian, US or UK never made any sincere efforts compelling Pakistan & India to resolve their disputes by diplomatic and peaceful means. Their ignorance is quite understandable as these powers dont want to loose their market of billions of dollars from arms sell to both India and Pakistan. Though the matter had been brought to United Nations in 1948 by India and then both (India & Pakistan) were agreed to comply with UN resolution but UN could not perform its due role to forcibly implement the UN resolutions by both the countries. One can also understand UN impracticality as it has continuously been failing to act neutrally and forcefully on other geopolitical issues around the world due to the slanted disposition of Western powers particularly USA in UN structure.
In this situation, if one could think of any force that may generate pressure on the leaderships of India and Pakistan in bringing them on negotiating table and to resolve all the issues by diplomatic and peaceful means are the people of India and Pakistan. It has been a common observation that People of India and Pakistan due to their common historical, cultural and traditional roots dont possess much divergence in the conduct and behavior. In this modern age of technology and mass communication, the people of both the countries do understand their common benefits if they live peacefully as a friendly neighbour. They do realize good relations between India and Pakistan will produce lots of shared benefits for them in various fields especially in trade and technology.
Certainly, in the past, whenever there has been the threat of war or tension on the borders arose and whenever there has been any ethnic violence in India or sectarian clashes in Pakistan occurred, the peace loving citizens from both sides raised their voice for amity, harmony and peace. Whenever tension grew at the Line of Control there have been anti-war protests and peace rallies staged in both Pakistan and India by human rights and anti-war activists.
Unfortunately, these efforts never found sufficient enough to bow down their governments, political gurus and army chiefs to maintain peace, communal harmony and friendly relations between these two nuclear powers. More peace loving campaign, demonstrations and rehabilitation programmes are consistently required in both countries to compel their rulers to listen the voice of the silent majority. The non-governmental organizations, non-political institutes, the intellectuals, journalists, writers, scholars and other Phenomenal of the society are required to come forward with more dedications and commitments in the interest of the people of region. More sincere, courageous and influential activists will have to devote their time to educate the people what is good and what is bad for them, for their faith as well for country.
Similarly, at the government or diplomatic level, if some leaders from both sides really feel the pain of the people due to continuous sufferings for the last 50 years with unrecoverable losses then they have to come out with comprehensive plans with active and honest diplomacy and with systematic and progressive motives to resolve all the political and geo-political differences on the basis of reciprocal and mutual actions. A continuous trust-building process is required. Ongoing non-political but social and cultural events should be arranged where the prominent people from media, art, culture, literature and the representative of non-political organizations should be invited to exchange their views with constructive and gracious attitude. More forums and debates should be organized outside India and Pakistan by the overseas Indians and Pakistanis where the issues can be addressed and discussed in a freely and friendly environment.
The US and Britain despite the enormous resistance by the millions of people around the world including in their own countries, are obsessively and anxiously thrusting war on Iraq to control the resources of entire region once and forever. Categorically, the next target of these bullies will be Iran, Pakistan and then the isolation of India if not the complete control. This will bring a great threat to the security and stability of entire South Asia. Today, when the people, through peaceful demonstrations in millions, in the East and the West, are showing solidarity for the World Peace and condemning the intent of US and Britain in selling war in the Middle East; India and Pakistan should also forget the past, work closely on direct approach to resolve their differences, show their responsibilities and condemn, jointly, the US-Britain war game in Iraq for the sake of the freedom of South Asia. (The writer is a Sydney-based senior journalist and Editor Tribune International, Australia).