20 September, 2014 / Ziqa'ad 24, 1435

 

Pakistani and Indian flag — File Photo
Pakistani and Indian flag — File Photo

KARACHI: Peace and human rights activists from both India and Pakistan have called for opening more consulates so that more people can apply for visas and benefit from the new and relaxed via policy.

In a joint statement, signed by over 60 civil society members from both sides of the border, the activists have suggested that new consulates be opened in Karachi, Hyderabad and Lahore in Pakistan, and Mumbai, Hyderabad Deccan, Jalandhar, Chennai and Calcutta in India.

They also gave other suggestions which the governments of India and Pakistan could use to improve diplomatic relations.

Referring to the recently concluded negotiations between the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers, the statement pointed out that the proposed policy would only benefit selected categories of visitors for the time being.

The activists also said that the humiliating condition of tourists’ reporting to the police after they reach and leave their destinations should be eliminated.

They suggested that urgent steps be taken to facilitate access to information by allowing the free distribution of newspapers, journals and other publications and removing bans on channels from across the border.

They said that since both governments had expressed their commitment to tackle the growing menace of religious intolerance, extremism and violence, another urgent task they needed to undertake was setting up a joint commission of experts, including historians and educationists of impeccable integrity, to review the textbooks. This would help identify all inter-faith and inter-state hate material and the committee would suggest effective ways to remove them from the school curriculums.

However, the activists appreciated the move, especially in the light of events which have caused the relationship between the two countries to grow extremely strained, marred for decades by bitterness and an acute trust deficit.

The civil society members said that they were confident that policy makers of India and Pakistan were not oblivious to the fact that the open interaction between the peoples was the key to developing a relationship of mutual understanding, lasting friendship and durable peace.

They also welcomed the decision of releasing fishermen and sick prisoners languishing in jails in both countries. But, they said, the decision would only be of advantage if concrete measures were taken to put a full stop to the inhuman practice of arresting poor fishermen and seizing their boats. In this context, said the statement, a decision be taken to ensure the implementation of the agreement on consular access in letter and spirit.

They included the immediate notification of arrests by either side, consular access to all prisoners within three months of arrests, their release within a month of completion of their sentence and confirmation of their national status. The activists said that this was a long-awaited-for but welcome move — but would only be helpful if the decisions were implemented without further delay.

At the end, the statement said that for lasting peace between the two countries, India and Pakistan would eventually have to sit down and discuss more important issues, such as Siachen or Sir Creek.

People from Pakistan who signed the statement included: Dr Kaiser Bengali, Mir Tahir Bizenjo, B.M. Kutty, Dr A.H. Nayyar, Karamat Ali, Sheema Kermani, Zulfiqar Halepoto, Samina Khan, Javed Qazi, Fazil Jameeli, Farid Awan, Zeenat Hissam, Zubaida Mustafa, Jami Chandio, Dr Jaffer Ahmed, Syed Shamsuddin, Irfana Mallah, Amar Sindhu and Mehanaz Rahman. Those from India included, journalists Jatin Desai and Kuldip Nayyar, film makers Mahesh Bhatt and Anand Patwardhan, social activist Mazher Hussain, journalist and ex MP Shahid Siddiqui and academician Dr Amrita.


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Comments (6) (Closed)


Atif
Sep 10, 2012 10:43pm
Hi, Live for the day when i see open border policy between the two countries. Dont let a minority rule the majority. We have the same blood running through our veins. Lets break the "berlin" wall
surinder
Sep 10, 2012 05:32pm
India will definitely suffer if more consulates / locations are opened. It is better for India that it should have only limited interaction with pakistanis. How can there be cordial relations between the two people given the type of education / information given to the young minds in pakistani schools about Hindus in particular.
ar
Sep 10, 2012 04:22pm
"Peace and human rights activists from both India and Pakistan have called for opening more consulates so that more people can apply for visas and benefit from the new and relaxed via policy" correct the heading,it's visa policy not via policy. nothing goo will come out of this, India will see more influx of radicals and extremists,and one day, India's fledgling secularism will die out to make more like its neighbors.
atis
Sep 10, 2012 01:42pm
Improved and free movement of people would resolve many problems,the two coutries are facing.
AAA
Sep 11, 2012 07:35am
No Indian Consulate should be allowed in any city of Pakistan until the Indians stop their terrorist activities in Balouchistan and other parts of Pakistan.
sham
Sep 11, 2012 05:54am
No Pakistan consulate should be allowed in Mumbai until the 26-11 perpetrators are brought to justice by Pakistan