Signature Campaigning in India and Pakistan Against Terrorism

A massive signature campaigning against terrorism, war posturing as well as promoting cooperation and peace in India and Pakistan will start on Friday, where citizens from both the countries are going to participate.

Initiated by a number of civil society organisations of both the countries, the joint campaign is scheduled to be launched in different cities and towns of Pakistan and India on 9th January from 3 pm (IST) and 2.30 pm (PST) simultaneity. The campaign would be carried out for one month and will conclude on February 8, 2009.

Copies of signatures collected in both the countries will be compiled to be submitted to the Prime Minister of India, The President of Pakistan and other important political functionaries of both the countries and members of the Media before February 20, stated in a press statement. The petition states that the citizens of Pakistan and India demand that New Delhi and Islamabad should practice zero tolerance for religious extremism and terrorism in the interest of the very sustenance and prosperity of both the countries.

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. “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”, the statement issued from the Indo-Pak Joint Signature Campaign Secretariat, Hyderabad added.

The partner organizations of this initiative in India comprise 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, Open Space, Pucaar, Rupantar, Sahai, Samarthan, Sangat, Sansad, Yuvsatta, Xavier Institute of Social Research, Yuva Samvad etc. Similarly, the associating organizations of Pakistan include All Pakistan Kisan Ittehad Cyda, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, India Pakistan Soldiers’ Initiative for Peace, Institute of Secular Studies, Labour Party Pakistan, Muttahida Labour Federation, Pakhtoonkhva Progressive Front, Pakistan Peace Coalition, Pakistan Peace and Solidarity Council, Pakistan Workers Confederation, Sungi Development Foundation, Tehreek-I-Niswan, Women’s Rights Association etc.

Arguing that the dependence on the political- bureaucratic- military establishments in both the countries would not lead to reduction in tensions, rather on the contrary, the statement asserted, this nexus could only land both the countries in an unexpected war. “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,” the statement emphasized. It also urged both the governments ‘to 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’.

The role of the media of both the countries in the ongoing crisis is also termed as not much satisfactory. It appealed 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.

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, the statement concluded.

Nava Thakuria is a Guwahati (Northeast India) based journalist, who contributes to NewsBlaze and various media outlets throughout the world.