PUCL Bulletin, Sept., 2002

Speakers from Pakistan and India stress the urgent need for fresh peace initiative

by Neelofar Haram

A conference on the urgency of peace initiatives was held at the Constitution club on August 7, 2002.

Various speakers from India and Pakistan were invited to exchange their views regarding the present situation. Addressing the audience Admiral Ramdas said, "we are going through hot and cold war, we have moved great farther from Agra. At that time peace measures failed because India made it clear that Pakistan is not stopping cross border terrorism." He said to bring an end to communication is no solution to the crisis and that no one wants a third party interference. Speaking at the meeting Mr I.A. Rahman of PIPFPD, Pakistan revealed the ground realities.

Talking about Civil Rights and dissent he said, "you go to Court for justice but you cannot be sure of getting it. When all powers openly lie in the hands of one commander, civil values can't be discussed." He said that they have different ways of expressing dissent like going out on streets, taking out processions etc that is not allowed under the present regime. And as a result, the whole process of elections has been undermined.

He informed that the question of giving rights to majority has been in debate and Ahmedis, who call themselves Muslims, found their names missed from voters' list. He further said that in political matters there are problems regarding autonomy, "the moment you try to spell out federation, it becomes a matter of debate."

Dr. Mubashir Hasan, another speaker from Pakistan citing some examples of swing in Pakistani government since 1947, talked about the forthcoming elections there.

He also discussed how the governments of both the countries tried for peaceful relations. Mentioning the historical events, he said "before 1988 no politician dared to speak about friendship with India and vice versa, it was only when the government felt that common people would not mind to have good relations with their neighbours that it decided to maintain peaceful relations."
He said, "Pakistan and India have been talking to each other, these governments have been in continuous diplomatic relations." There were lots of efforts, joint statements between the two countries, in 1995 another change took place when people to people dialogue was exchanged, he said.

He also asserted that a great deal was achieved till 1999, and emphasised that the governments of India and Pakistan had nowhere to go except peace.
Dr Manoranjan Mohanty, while speaking on 'Civil Rights, Democratic Dissent; and War on Terrorism in India' observed that it has often been concluded that India and Pakistan have had similar problems.

In his address, he said, "we have to see how democracy in India has been manipulated, a dangerous phase of fascism has erupted."

About the present Indian government, he further said that the government in India was actually an alliance of US, which has been indulged in counter terrorism.

Talking about the wide spread communalism in the Indian society he said, "Hindu communalism has taken the form of fascism and greater sections of Hindu society including the middle class has moved in the direction of fascism." Citing the recent carnage in Gujarat he said that the riots had led to an increase in unemployment in Ahmedabad, the heart of trade. For this he emphasised linkage between globalisation and Indian communal fascists. Then raising the issue of POTO, he asserted how it had turned into a law (POTA) and that it was a clear example of fascism which has led to severe depression over autonomy movement; and thus shrinking of democracy.

Mentioning the recent political conflict between J. Jayalalithaa of the AIADMK and Vaiku of DMK; he observed that how an ideological statement of Mr Vaiku about the LTTE movement had been subjected to POTA.

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