Peace activists to celebrate Pak-India Independence Day Variety of cultural activities are being planned along border

HYDERABAD: Pakistan and Indian peace activists are designing a variety of cultural activities along the border, particularly at the railways route of Khokhrapar and Monabao on the occasion of independence days of both the countries, August 14 and 15.

In this regard, the peace activists from Sindh and Rajasthan plan to meet at the convenient point to exchange greetings. This was decided at a meeting attended by representatives of civil society, academia and writers of Sindh here on Thursday. Mustafa Baloch of Strengthening Participatory Organisation SPO chaired the meeting and Executive Director of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research PILER Karamat Ali, Noor Bajeer of Civil Society Support Programme, Sulman G Abro of Sindh Agriculture and Forestry Workers Coordinating Organisation SAFWCO, Suhail Siddiqi of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum PFF, Dr Ashothama of HRCP Sindh Taskforce, Punhal Sario of Hari Porhiat Council, Razzaq Umrani of HANDS and others attended the meeting.

The meeting was convened by Pakistan Peace Coalition PPC and Peoples SAARC at the SAFWCO office here. Karamat Ali of PILER in his introductory speech said Sindh and Rajasthan share borders and people of both the sides have already close relations. They would like to strengthen the existing relationship by extending the two side peace. Wahga border in Punjab is the main route from where the people of both the countries travel and trade related activities are happening on regular basis. “Like Wahga, the people of Sindh want to initiate similar efforts to use this railways route for promoting tourism and trade between the two neighbouring areas of South Asia.

But, he said unfortunately no serious efforts were made in the past along at the Sindh Rajasthan borders to bring the people of both the sides closer and explore the trade opportunities. For example, Karamat Ali pointed out that dates of Khairpur are presently exported to India via Wahga border which is difficult sometimes and exporters lose their perishable items due to long distances. Exporters can use Khokhrapar Monabao route for date’s exports, which could be easy and timesaving option.

Similarly, he said, organizing such cultural events at Wagha border areas is quite easy as compared to such events in Sindh Rajasthan. There are trade related opportunities at Wahga, which benefit the local people in Punjab, the same can also happen.

The people of Rajasthan are preparing for organizing such event in a border city. They have informed in a communiqué and requested to organise similar the activists in Pakistan. Indian peace activists will address a press conference on August 12 at Jaipur, Rajasthan in this regard. We should design similar activities in Sindh, he added. The civil society activists, academia, legislators, professionals and writers may lead such activities in Sindh. He said that this event will be productive for the local people living along both the sides of the border.

“If the border is opened and accessible to the people, it may generate more trade opportunities for the people of Sindh. Besides peace related activities we should also see how it could benefit the people through trade,” he told the meeting.
“If the neighbouring governments are laying gas pipeline, connecting two or three countries they may need protection of the installations. Why the same governments are reluctant to make the train and road route safer for their people,” he asked.

In fact, Karamat Ali said there are people within Pakistan either in the uniform or without uniform who do not like this trade initiative to kick off. Instead majority of people want to promote relationships and we are going to do this, he said.

Karamat Ali said Pakistan and Indian governments have purchased weapons by spending 50 billion dollar amount during the last financial year. But they do not like to allocate a sizeable budget for welfare, education and health for their people.

Noor Bajeer proposed to have a common place for activities, accessible to the people of Karachi and other areas of Sindh. For this, participants unanimously chosen Umarkot city for the gathering and from there they will proceed to Khokhrapar. Bajeer said this is the initiative for peace. Khokhrapar and Monabao are two important places connecting people of both the sides. It could be ion positive direction to bring the people of two sides closer. If the objective of this group is clear we can celebrate the days together.

The meeting also discussed the issue of getting visa to travel to other side, where the people of both the countries may meet and share their cultural activities. It was also suggested that legislators representing different areas should also be sensitized to join the “Peace Caravan”, as the present government has already shown keen interest for promoting trade and bilateral relationship. Similarly Rajasthan Assembly members may also join the
group.

A committee was formed, which will visit Umerkot to have a meeting with peace activists in different areas and discuss how they will make the peace caravan successful. The final meeting will be held in Karachi to give it final touches. The meeting was informed that that a youth initiative is on the way in which the people of Pakistani and Indian origin are going to organize such gatherings to promote peace in the region, specifically in Pakistan and India.