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KARACHI: Foreigners lauds peace, hospitality

March 28, 2006

KARACHI, March 27: People from various countries taking part in the events of the World Social Forum-2006 on Monday said that the WSF provided the peoples of different countries an opportunity to gather at one place and raise their voice against the Establishment.

The WSF 2006, which was kicked off on Friday, is being organized at the KMC Sports Complex, where plenary sessions, seminars, debates, and discussions are being held on various global and regional issues. Many social, human rights and trade organizations stage protests in groups against the Establishment and raise voice for their demands.

A South Korean trade union activist Yung Chan Choi said the WSF was a platform where peoples from various countries could assemble and they could voice for their rights and demands. “It is good and fantastic opportunity to share experiences and views with people of various countries,” he remarked.

He said he was the trade union activist and he had met with different trade union activist of Pakistan. “I have participated in the events of trade union activists in this Forum to mark solidarity with trade unionists. I think that trade unionists of South Korea and Pakistan should meet and share their experiences and views which may be good for the two countries,” he added.

About Karachi, Mr Choi said that he had been told that the city was not safe for foreigners but he went round the metropolis and visited the crowded business area of Express Market. “I have not got any harm from the people of this country, rather they are friendly and polite. I have never been to Karachi before. My impression about Karachi is that it is the safe city but people stare at foreigners at crowded places which looks odd,” he added.

Another trade union activist, Leopoldo, who came from Italy, said: “I do not know that by organizing WSF events in various countries, we can change the world, but one thing is for sure that this Forum provides us an opportunity to sit together and raise collective voice against social injustices.”

He said that the seminars and discussions were the very good initiatives to make efforts to bring a change for the suppressed people of the world. He said that the WSF was the best forum for common people to come and voice for their rights.

As far as Karachi is concerned, Mr Leopoldo said, it appeared safe for foreigners. “We have read in newspapers and watched in TV the reports about riots and explosions in Karachi but we have not seen with our eyes. This is our first visit to Karachi and we are here for the past four days. We have found its people friendly and talkative. I have been to Baghdad and Kabul and comparing those cities with Karachi and found it much better place,” he added.

Dina Mani Pokharel, a social and development activist from Kathmandu, Nepal, said that apart from the benefit of organizing the forum, it provided the people of suppressed class an opportunity to come forward, apprise the world of their grievances and voice against Establishment.

He was very critical about the deteriorating state of the poor in South Asia and held the governments of South Asian countries responsible for the situation. He said that irrespective of the King’s rule in Nepal, army rule in Pakistan and democracy in India, no government in its respective country could make the difference or elevate standard of its people’s life. He said that India was one step ahead in the process of struggle for the rights of poor and suppressed class but the governments of all other countries did nothing for the deprived class of the society.

About Karachi, he said that it was his first trip to the city and he found a lot of beggars in every street. “One thing which I feel is that there is a mobility problem for women and they usually travel with their male counterparts. Besides, the people of the city are friendly, polite and they are very good in hospitality.”

He said that the impression of the people of Pakistan was negative about the people of India, and the same situation was in India, which was strange. The impression was developed by the governments of the two countries but the peoples of both the countries were very good. The media could play its due role in dispelling the wrong impression. Opportunities should be provided to the people of the two countries to meet and understand each other, which was necessary to build confidence.

A labour rights activist Preethi Hermen from Bangalore, India, said that the WSF was a unity point for different activists where they could show solidarity with each other. She said that Pakistani people were polite and friendly.

“We were told to be careful while travelling to Karachi but here we have moved around and whoever knows about us at any of the food outlet here, he would not charge us saying that we are their guests from India,” she said, and added that Karachi was not the dangerous place as depicted in the media, rather its people were friendly beyond our expectations.