Alarmed at the rising tensions at the Line of Control, Indian and Pakistani citizens have initiated several statements, jointly and separately on both sides of the border, urging the governments to stay the peace course. Here are some of them.
Suitable mechanisms must be evolved and implemented
In a joint statement dated Jan 9, prominent Indian and Pakistani citizens stress the need for uninterrupted dialogue
Deeply disturbed with the recent exchange of firings and killing of two Indian and one Pakistani soldier across the Line of Control (LoC), prominent Indians and Pakistanis note that the incident “as reported is highly deplorable”. They fear it has a “potential to derail the ongoing peace process that has shown remarkable progress in recent times in easing the visa regime, improving trade relations and securing many other confidence building measures that hold great promise for both the countries.”
“We are happy that the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of both countries have spoken to each other after the incidents. We urge that suitable mechanisms must be evolved and implemented immediately to ensure that the concerned authorities on both sides are in constant touch to avert recurrence of any such incidence rather than meet after some damage is done.
“We sincerely appeal to both the countries to take action against those responsible and see such incidences do not occur in the future. Such incidents will only help warmongers and enemies of peace when the need of the hour for both sides is to take the peace process forward,” they say.
They express their confidence “that such dastardly incidents will not affect the dialogue as it has to be uninterrupted and uninterruptible till we secure complete friendship and peace between our two countries. The two sides should also resume normal trade across the LoC and enhance people to people contacts by easing the Visa regime further.”
The statement is signed from India by Admiral L. Ramdas, Former Chief of Indian Navy, Alibaug; Mahesh Bhat, Film Maker, Mumbai; Lalita Ramdas, Former Chair, International Green Peace- AlibBaug; Jatin Desai, Peace Activist and Journalist, Mumbai; Dr. Mazher Hussain, Director, COVA, Hyderabad; Dr. Amrita Chacchi, Academic, Delhi; Ramesh Pimple, People’s Media Initiative, Mumbai; Sheeba Chacchi, Artist, Delhi; Varsha Rajan Berry, SAHR, Mumbai; Dr. Sandeep Panday, Asha Ashram, Lucknow; Ramesh Yadav, Folklore Institute, Amritsar; Sanjay Nahar, Sarhad, Pune; and Vijayan M J, Programme for Social Action, Delhi.
From Pakistan the signatories are Karamat Ali, Labour Rights Activist, (PILER) Karachi; Dr. A. H. Hayyar, peace activist, President Pakistan Peace Coalition, Lahore; B. M. Kutty, Secretary General of Pakistan Peace Coalition, Karachi; I. A. Rehman, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Lahore; Dr. Kaiser Bengali, Senior economist, Karachi; Dr. Tipu Sultan, Pakistan Medical Association, Karachi;Sheema Kermani, Tahrik-e-Niswan, Karachi; Muqtada Mansoor Khan, political analyst, Irtiqa Institute of Social Sciences, Karachi; Dr. Syed Jaffar Ahmed, academician and peace activist, Karachi; Mehnaz Rehman, women rights activist, Karachi; Mohammad Ali Shah, Chairperson, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, Karachi; Iqbal Alavi, peace activist, Karachi; Zulfiqar Halepoto, peace and human rights activist, Hyderabad; Sauleha Ather, women rights and peace activist, Karachi; Farooq Tariq, peace activist and labour leader, Lahore; and Javed Qazi, Forum for Secular Pakistan, Karachi.
Appeal by Poonch civil society
Letter urges governments to defuse the tension, restore trade and the weekly Poonch–Rawalakot bus service
Prominent residents of Poonch area on the Indian side of Kashmir, in a statement dated Jan 12, note that for those residing alongside 103 km long LOC in Poonch region, the ceasefire of Nov 26 2003 had brought peace and security as well as enabled a conducive atmosphere for development.
“This was important as this region and the people and their socio-economic needs had remained neglected for 58 years, due to continues firing and shelling across the LOC. These conditions had subjected people to limitless pain and sorrow, death and injuries and filled their life with miseries and tension before ceasefire.”
The cross LOC bus service started in 2005 allowed divided families to meet their relatives after decades, and in 2008 traders across the LOC were able to establish trade relations. All this created “an atmosphere of peace and hope” and enabled progress and prosperity.
“However in last few days this peaceful atmosphere has been disturbed due to unfortunate incidents of firing and brutal killings across the LOC at various places in Poonch and Uri areas. These incidents have shaken the confidence of the people. There is a lot of tension and panic among the public. We the people of border areas who have enjoyed the fruit of peace and the LOC CBMs following the ceasefire on the LOC do not want the escalation of the situation and lives being disturbed as a result of more killings.”
The signatories appeal to Governments of India and Pakistan “to take immediate steps” to restore peace on the LOC and “implement in letter and spirit the ceasefire agreement of November 26, 2003.” They also urge efforts to defuse the tension and restore trade and weekly bus service from Poonch–Rawalakot route “so that we the people of border areas can live in our houses and localities near the LOC with a sense of peace and security in conducive atmosphere. This, we believe is in the utmost interest of the people residing on both the sides of LOC.”
The signatories are: Iftikhar Ahmed Bazmi, Secretary Bar Association Poonch; Inder Raj Sharma, President Baparmanda Poonch; S. Karishan Singh, Gen. Secretary Cross LOC Trader`s Association Poonch; S. Harbajan Singh, President Journalist Association Poonch; Mohd Farooq, Imam Jamia Masjid Poonch; K.K. Kapoor, peace activist; Molvi Abdul Razaq, Sarpanch Panchayat Hari Budha; S. Divinder Singh, owner Khidmat Centre; Prof. Mussaraf Hussain Shah, Chairman, Syed Habibullah Memorial Society; Muzaffar Ahmed, President, Public Peace & Development Foundation; K.D. Maini, President Heritage Centre Poonch and Zaki Haider, President Anjuman-e-Jaffria.
Seek longterm solutions
Members of divided families urge the governments to ensure that relations between two countries stay on path to normalisation
A signature petition initiated by the India Pakistan Families Solidarity Association (IPFSA), condoles the tragic deaths of Indian and Pakistani soldiers that “highlight the need for dialogue, trust and collaboration to resolve the problems” faced by both countries
“We implore our governments to seek long term solutions rather than shortsighted politics seeking temporary wins,” says the petition which is “in favor of an investigation by independent military observer - the families of the fallen soldiers deserve to know the truth their sons lived and died for.”
The petition urges the two armies and intelligence agencies to “find ways to collaborate to put an end to infiltration of terrorists and traffickers across the border”.
It notes that the families of the soldiers have suffered most due to cross border tensions. “We demand that the two sides show restrain and measured response, keeping in mind the additional suffering caused by further aggressive or reactionary stance.”
When there are cross-border attacks, says the petition “we ask that the pain caused by war, lack of people contact and visa restrictions to the families on both sides of the border be kept in mind.”
“As foreign minister of India has stated, this was a deliberate attempt to derail the peace process. Keeping that in mind, we ask that the extreme factions not be allowed to restrict the long-term friendship and trade between the two countries. A prosperous and well-connected South Asia is our best response to these divisive factions.”
The petition is online at this link - https://t.co/XH6mxk5y
Honour the 2003 ceasefire
An online joint signature appeal by Indians and Pakistanis, urging the governments to ‘self-impose restraint and urgently move for mutual peace’
The Society for Promoting Rationality (SPRAT) has initiated an online signature campaign for Indians and Pakistanis to “condemn the violation of ceasefire by both sides, and urge both the governments and the two armies to sincerely honour the 2003 ceasefire scrupulously”.
The petition condemns and mourns the killing of Pakistani and Indian soldiers and declares “beheading or mutilating human bodies as unacceptable and barbaric” and urges both nations to identify and punish the culprits.
It requests both countries to “swiftly initiate a process of restoring mutual confidence” and to counsel their officials, serving and retired, civil and military, and the media to exercise “due restraint in their public utterances”.
“We are sure that posterity will judge our courage and patriotism not from the revenge we wreaked but from the peace we won for our respective people in these troubling times, and from the progress resulting from such peace.”
The petition is online at this link https://t.co/MELJD7hv
We call for an immediate end to the hostilities
Letter to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari by concerned Indians and Pakistanis
A letter by concerned citizens on both sides of the Line of Control expresses “grave concern at the loss of lives of the soldiers and any casualties to civilians on both the sides” and the safety and security of the people, especially thoe living at the borders “who are directly hit by sporadic incidents of shelling and firing”.
“We fear that if these tensions at the borders are allowed to prolong, they will compromise the goodwill that has been built and reverse the peace dividends. We also fear that they will cause massive sufferings to the people of not just the border areas, but eventually of the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, on both sides. Besides, they will provide a greater space to extremist, hawkish and fanatic elements as well as empower the warmongers on both sides. They also have the potential of ushering the whole region into a new cold war destroying hopes of long term peace and economic stability and hamper SAARC-wide integration.”
The letter, which calls for “an immediate end” to hostilities on the LoC, is online at