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Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA)
www.asiapeace.org    &  www.indiapakistanpeace.org
4410 Verda Lane NE , Keizer , OR 97303
503.393.6944

Link to Asia Peace (ACHA) Site

India-Pakistan Peace Day 2005

Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA)
www.asiapeace.org    &   www.indiapakistanpeace.org
4410 Verda Lane NE , Keizer , OR 97303
503.393.6944

July 23, 2005

As you know, since the middle of June, we have been working on preparing a to ease travel between India and Pakistan. With the help of Khalid Hasan, we now have finalized the petition, which incorporates most of the suggestions and comments, which many of you had sent us.

The petition is now ready for your signatures on line at http://www.PetitionOnline.com/ACHA2005/petition.html

I will appreciate any help you can provide us in publicizing the petitions among your friends and neighbors.

Also, a printable copy of the petition is available at www.indiapakistanpeace.org, the website we had set up last year exclusively to support our India-Pakistan Peace Day Campaign. You may wish to use the printed to copy to gather signatures physically at various gatherings in your town.

When done, please mail the completed copies of the petition to us at 4410 Verda Lane NE, Keizer, OR 97303, USA.

This petition is the core project for our India-Pakistan Peace Day campaign this year. We urge you to please organize India-Pakistan Peace Day 2005 celebrations in your town, any day between August 1 and October 31. The theme for this year’s celebrations is “Celebrating shared cultural heritage to promote peace between India and Pakistan.”

For your review, I am pasting below Khalid Hasan’s article about this petition in July 24 issue of Daily Times, Pakistan.

Khalid Hasan is the Washington correspondent of Pakistani newspapers Daily Times and The Friday Times. Author of over 35 books, he was born in Srinagar and.was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's press secretary at the time of the Simla Conference in 1972. 

Pritam K. Rohila, Ph. D.
Executive Director
pritamr@open.org

________________________________________________

Asiapeace for easing travel between India and Pakistan, Daily Times, Sunday, July 24, 2005

By Khalid Hasan

            WASHINGTON: Asiapeace, a US-based Internet group that has been working for bringing about peace and harmony between India and Pakistan, has appealed to the leaders of the two countries to remove the existing visa restrictions that prevent the people of India and Pakistan from getting closer.

            In a petition sent to Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Pakistan's President, Gen Pervez Musharraf, the group points out that the peoples of India and Pakistan have many ethnologic similarities and centuries of common history and shared culture. Yet for almost six decades they have been kept apart. The separation has engendered mutual misconceptions, prejudices and suspicion, becoming one of the major
roadblocks to peace between the two countries.

            The petition goes on to propose, "Now that the two governments are making an earnest effort to bring the walls down, it is essential to enable people to meet easily and frequently. We believe these contacts will permit the citizens of India and Pakistan to play their due role in the success of the ongoing dialogue so that their two countries can, at last, take their rightful place in the world. But the existing India-Pakistan Visa Agreement is a major obstacle. It invariably takes a long time to process visa applications. Consequently, many applicants are unable to honour their commitments across the border. Others are prevented from participating in such important family events as weddings and funerals."

            According to Asiapeace, "The border can be crossed at one place only, and in limited ways. People are forced to travel long distances and spend a lot of money just to go across. Crossing by road presents special difficulty to the elderly and the andicapped. People are only allowed to visit a limited number of places in the other county. Points of entry and exit have to be identical and specified at the time the application is made. Sometimes visas are denied without explanation. Unless an exemption has been allowed, which is rare, every visitor is obliged to report to police all movements, even change of hotel in the same city. This is a time-consuming and demeaning procedure. Visa restrictions hinder cross-border business, and cultural, intellectual, and civil society
exchanges.

            The petition ends with the plea to the two leaders, "We, therefore, urge you to please order the removal of all measures and formalities that inhibit and block people-to-people contact."

 

________________________________________________

June 5, 2005

Friends:

In response to our request, some of you had offered suggestions regarding theme and core project for celebrations of India-Pakistan Peace Day 2005. Thank you.

Around May 5, we posted all the suggestions on
www.indiapakistanpeace.org, the website we have dedicated for this project. Also we forwarded them to you by email. We requested your comments.

On June 3, our Board of Directors reviewed all the suggestions and your feedback. After much discussion, they chose the following theme and core project for India-Pakistan Peace Day 2005.

THEME: Celebrating shared cultural heritage of India and Pakistan to promote peace between them

CORE PROJECT        A Petition to the Governments of India and Pakistan to modify their current visa regimes to facilitate travel by their citizens across their common border

In keeping with the above theme, we propose collaborative (as opposed to competitive) activities such as the following be included in this year’s celebration of India-Pakistan Peace Day everywhere:

  1. Kabbadi, field hockey, football and cricket games and training camps Kite-making and kite flying
  2. Fashion shows
  3. Kathak and Bhangra Dances
  4. Poetry recitals and Qwwalis
  5. Fashions shows

Other activities such as the following may also be considered:

  1. Peace vigils, rallies, marches and human chains
  2. Interfaith prayers for peace
  3. Essay, drawing and painting competitions
  4. India-Pakistan geography bees

We would appreciate your comments and suggestions. Also, please send us your drafts of a petition for the core Project.

Please send us announcement and reports of similar celebrations being planned and organized in your area. We will post them on
www.indiapakistanpeace.org.

We suggest that, this year also, celebrations of India-Pakistan Peace Day are held any day between August 1 and October 31, but preferably on September 21, declared by the United Nations to be “a global ceasefire day; a day of non-violence, a day of Peace”  (www.peaceoneday.org).

You can reach us at pritamr@open.org.

We thank you for your support.

Best wishes

Pritam Rohila


 Theme & Core Project

In response to our recent request, some people on our various mailing lists have sent us the following suggestions regarding the theme and the core project for India-Pakistan Peace Day 2005. What do you think?

Please send your views to me, before May 30, at pritamr@open.org. Your views will help our Board of Directors to make the final selection in their meeting on June 2, 2005.

As many of you would recall, this would be the second year of our campaign, requesting friends of peace to organize celebrations of India-Pakistan Peace Day 2005 everywhere, any day between August 1 and October 31.

Last year, we had focused on the Partition of 1947. Our core project was a petition to the governments of India and Pakistan to build on the Wagah border a joint memorial to the victims of the Partition-related violence, on both sides of their common border. People from more than 20 countries had signed the petition. For its delivery to the Heads of their governments, I gave the petition personally to Mr. Shaukat Aziz, Prime Minister of Pakistan and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, President of Indian National Congress, on January 1 and 6, respectively. I had visited them at their residences as a member of the Joint to India- Pakistan Peace and Goodwill Mission consisting of Nonresident Indians and Pakistani from Canada, UK and USA.

Best wishes,

Pritam Rohila

Theme

1. Peace between peoples on cultural/linguistic and racial grounds

2. Common tradition of dance and music

3. Strengthening the ties - using cultural similarities between India and Pakistan to solidify the relationship between the two countries

4. Strength in Unity - what India and Pakistan would gain by settling differences betweenthe two countries

5. ”In Step" - India and Pakistan coming together to reach a common goal

6. "Stairway to Peace" - Together We Can Achieve Peace One Step at a Time

7. Books, education and young people all in the cause of peace

8. Celebrating our shared culture to promote peace in South Asia

Project

1. Story writing competition on “promoting peace"

2. Ways to bring erstwhile neighbors or their progeny together. Let them stay in each other’s homes

3. Well of Memories (Yadon ka Kuna): A website for personal stories of Partition

4. Enhancing People to people contacts: Reconnecting families, Developing Linkages

5. Getting visa restrictions down to a minimum

6. On each side of the border, establishing a modest hospital, a school or a rest area along the road from Amritsar to Lahore