Peaceniks welcome end to Attari border ‘confrontation’

November 5th, 2010 - 6:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Mumbai, Nov 5 (IANS) On the eve of US President Barack Obama’s visit to Asia starting Saturday, Indian and Pakistani peace activists Friday welcomed the end of the face-to-face show of bravado at the Attari border between the two countries.

In a statement, the activists expressed happiness that the authorities on both sides of the border have finally decided to end the ‘militarist gestures’ by replacing them with ‘friendly smiles and handshakes’ during the daily Flag Lowering Ceremony.

The activists said they had been calling for change in the confrontationist character of the ceremony since long and now this has been done by the directors-general of Pakistani Rangers and India’s Border Security Force in their recent meeting.

The activists said more could be done between the two countries if the two governments are sincere for a relationship of genuine peace and friendship.

They urged the sides for removal of all symbols of militarism such as tanks, missiles, guns and war planes displayed in public places like road junctions and parks in various towns and cities of the two countries.

All war-like propaganda and hate materials against each other should be expunged from history books and other educational text books in the two countries, they said.

Release all the remaining fishermen detained by the two countries, order the maritime security authorities on both sides not to arrest or detain the fisher folk if their boats inadvertently trespass into each other’s territorial waters and let them off with a warning, the activists said.

Both the countries must also release the citizens of the two countries, arrested for overstaying and other minor violations of travel rules and who have completed their terms of punishment, they said.

The activists demanded easing of visa restrictions for citizens on both sides, opening of the Khokhrapar-Munabao border for regular road and rail trades, allowing exchange of newspapers and magazines, and restoring beaming of television news channels.

The signatories to the statement are:

Pakistan - Karamat Ali (PILER), B.M. Kuty (Pakistan Labour Trust), Tipu Sultan (Pakistan Peace Coalition), Samina Khan (Sungi Development Foundation), A.H. Nayyar (Pakistan Peace Coalition), Mohammad Tahseen (SAP-PK), Abdul Khaliq Junejo (JSQM), Syed Iqbal Haider (ex-senator), Mohammad Ali Shah (Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum), Senator Hasiz Khan Bizenjo.

India - Kuldip Nayyar (veteran journalist), Mahesh Bhatt (filmmaker), Kamla Bhasin (SANGT), Admiral L. Ramdas (Retd. Indian Navy chief), Jatin Desai (Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace & Democracy Maharashtra), Mazher Hussain (COVA), Meena Menon (Focus on the Global South).

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