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  Asia-Pacific
Citizens of India-Pakistan Stand Up for Peace
By Bobby Ramakant
Asia Correspondent
Citizens of India-Pakistan stand up for peace

To confront the present war posturing between India and Pakistan, the citizens of both countries are launching a joint signature petition campaign on Jan. 9, 2009, to voice their mandate against terrorism, war posturing and to promote mutual cooperation and peace. This signature petition campaign shall conclude on Feb. 8, 2009, after which these signatures shall be handed over to the heads of both the nations along with other prominent stakeholders.

Citizens of both nations can also sign online here or by going to the following URL: http://www.PetitionOnline.com/indopak/petition.html

The petition states that the citizens of Pakistan and India demand that:

* The Government of Pakistan and the Government of India should practice zero tolerance for religious extremism and terrorism in the interest of the very sustenance and prosperity of both the countries.

* Recognising that the problem of terrorism in both the countries are qualitatively different, we urge both the governments to take all appropriate initiates to contain and root out the activities of all fanatic and terrorist groups and catch and punish perpetrators of any acts of terror in their respective countries to make the subcontinent safe and secure for all.

* Both the governments should immediately set up a Joint Action and Investigative Agency for total cooperation and mutual assistance to address and overcome the problem of terrorism effectively and without any further delay.

* War can never be a solution but the beginning of insurmountable problems for both the countries. Hence both the governments should desist from war posturing and immediately engage in meaningful and effective dialogue and actions to address the issue of terrorism and to resolve all other outstanding problems.

* Both the Governments should follow in letter and spirit all the Conventions and Resolutions of UN and SAARC against terrorism and for cooperation to secure an atmosphere of mutual trust and holistic cooperation that alone could ensure security of all citizens and prosperity of the entire region.

* We appeal to the media of both India and Pakistan to play a constructive role in this hour of crisis to propagate and strengthen positive attitudes for the resolution of all the outstanding problems and discourage escalation of conflict and adventurism that could jeopardize peace and prosperity of both the countries.

"After 55 years of tense relations, just five years of sustained peace process between India and Pakistan was producing good results for all. Unfortunately, the terror attack in Mumbai suddenly changed the entire scenario and the tensions between India and Pakistan have once again reached dangerous levels that are detrimental to the interests of both the countries" said one of the organizers.

"It is clear that a dependence on the political- bureaucratic- military establishments in both the countries may not lead to reduction in tensions but on the contrary, this nexus could possibly land us in a war. Role of the media of both the countries in the ongoing crisis is also not very heartening" added the organzers.

In such a situation, assertion by the people and civil society groups of both the countries in favour of resolving the present crises through dialogue, cooperation and appropriate actions by both the governments to address terrorism and all other outstanding issues could influence the processes that are set in motion. The collective will of the people could certainly compel the establishments to adopt peaceful and appropriate processes to address all the issues and bring back normalcy.

In India, the following organizations have endorsed the campaign: Arya Samaj, ASHA Parivar, Bandhan, Bandhua Mukti Morcha, COVA, EKTA Parishad, Gandhian Integrated Forum Trust, Gram Vikas Manch, Hind- Pak Dosti Manch, Jana Sahayog, MUKTI, NACDOR, North East Network (NEN), Open Space, PUCAAR, Rupantar, SAHAI, Samarthan, SANGAT, SANSAD,Yuvsatta, Xavier Institute of Social Research, Yuva Samvad,

In Pakistan, the following organizations have endorsed the campaign: All Pakistan Kisan Ittehad CYDA, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, India Pakistan Soldiers' Initiative for Peace, Lahore , Institute of Secular Studies, Labour Party Pakistan, Muttahida Labour Federation, Pakhtoonkhva Progressive Front, Pakistani Doctors for Peace & Development, PPC-Sindh, Pakistan Peace Coalition, Pakistan Peace and Solidarity Council, Pakistan Workers Confederation, PILER, SAP Pakistan, South Asian Idea, SDPI , Sungi Development Foundation, , Tehreek-I-Niswan, Women's Rights Association, Multan.

(Website: http://www.indopakcampaignagainstwarnterror.org)



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Bobby Ramakant, who serves as The Seoul Times' Asia correspondent, is a member of NATT, Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals, and edits Weekly MONiTOR series, reporting violations of tobacco control policies as a senior public health and development journalist. He writes for newspapers in 11 countries. He is the recepient of World Health Organization (WHO)'s Award for the year 2008. He can be reached at bobbyramakant@yahoo.com)

 

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