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India, Pakistan intellectuals urge restraint

Published May 30, 2002 12:00am

KARACHI, May 29: The governments of Pakistan and India have been asked to exercise restraint in the current charged atmosphere and work hard on economic development and cultural enrichment with a view to improving the lot of the majority of their people.

In a joint statement, intellectuals, writers, journalists, scholars and human rights activists from India and Pakistan, drawing attention of both the governments said: “Should a war break out, for whatever reason, it runs the risk of escalating to the level of nuclear exchanges.”

Urging on the two governments to take all necessary steps to achieve disengagement of armed forces and restore normal relations they have appealed to the international community to support this process.

They said: “We, who are committed to help achieve the aspirations of the common peoples of Pakistan and India, urge our respective governments to exercise restraint in the current charged atmosphere. The entire world is anxious that there should be no war between the two countries of Pakistan and India. As of now, the threat of war from miscalculation or accident is quite serious. Regrettably, there has been a deliberately cultivated war hysteria in both the countries. Should a war break out, it runs the grave risk of escalating to the level of nuclear exchanges.

“Resolving the basic disputes between the two countries is necessary and will take time. But the immediate prerequisite is the return of normalcy and resumption of dialogue, not only between politicians or bureaucrats but even more importantly , between the concerned citizens of the two countries who must be free to meet and communicate with each other whenever they wish. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that along with the mutual disengagement of the armed forces, the recent extraordinary restrictions on means of communications that prevent people-to-people dialogues and cultural exchanges from taking place, be removed.”

Calling upon both the governments for disengagement, they said politics in both the countries must be de-militarised as much as possible and must be directed towards fulfilling the human needs and aspirations of the citizens of our two countries. There must be no support to terrorism, direct or indirect.

“We oppose it in all forms, whether cross-border or within our countries, whether carried out by individuals, groups or governments. We declare our common commitment to promote secularism, democracy, justice and peaceful co-existence.

The signatories to the statement from India are: Tapan Kumar Bose, Admiral R. Ramdas, Achin Vanaik, Latha Jishnu, KS Subramanian, Joseph Gathia, Syeda Hameed, Parkash Louis, Vijayan MJ Ranjana Padhi, Vineeta Bal, Jawed Laiq, Suneeta Madhu Prasad, Gautam Navlakha, Sagri Chhabra.

From Pakistan are: IA Rehman, MB Naqvi, BM Kutty, Dr Haroon Ahmed, Karamat Ali, MH Askri, Rahat Saeed, Zaheda Hina, Anis Haroon, Naseem Gandhi, Shahid Fiaz, Omar Farooq, Saleem Raza, Baseer Naveed, Aqeel Bilgrami, Iqbal Alvi, Zameer Niazi, Brig Abid Rao, Dr Tariq Suhail, Dr Zaki Hassan, Tahir Mohammad Khan, and Gul Rehman.

Meanwhile, Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy Karachi Chapter will hold a peace convention on June 8 to stress upon the two governments to de-escalate the tension.