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“Peace Caravan” to leave Karachi for Peshawar by Khyber Mail

by Pakistan Peace Coalition, 13 February 2010

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PRESS RELEASE

KARACHI: Feb. 12 — Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC), a network of civil society organizations struggling for peace and harmony in the country and South Asian region has organized a “Peace Caravan” from Karachi to Peshawar through Khyber Mail from Saturday February 13 to 17, 2010 to express solidarity with the people and workers of terrorism-hit province of Pakhtunkhwa.

Addressing a press conference at Karachi Press Club on Friday afternoon, the organizers of the Caravan said over 90 activists and representatives of various political parties, trade unions, peasants organizations and non-governmental organizations, intellectuals and poets from Karachi, Hyderabad, Shahdadpur, Khairpur, Rohri, Khanpur, Multan, Khanewal, Faisalabad, Lahore, Jehlum and Rawalpindi will join the train Caravan, which would start from Karachi Cantt. railway station on Saturday night. A large number of female members are also part of the Caravan, which would reach Peshawar on the morning of February 15, where peace activists of Peshawar and other parts of Pakhtunkhwa province would join them.

Before start of the journey, the participants of the Caravan would also visit the residence of the noted social activist late Akhtar Baloch, who was killed in a target killing incident due to his activism for saving Gutter Baghicha and a few families of martyrs of Ashura bomb blast in Karachi.

It may be recalled that the civil society organizations had made the decision to organize a “Peace Caravan” from Karachi to Peshawar at a Consultation meeting at Karachi Press Club on November 13, 2009.

The Caravan organizers told the press conference that the terrorists have started directly targeting common citizens through bomb and suicidal blasts at public places. The people of Pakhtunkhwa province have especially suffered a lot due to the terrorist activities. A large number of people have been displaced due to fear of terrorists or Army Operation and most of workers have been rendered jobless due to growing incidents of suicidal blasts and bomb explosions in different parts of the province in general and Peshawar city in particular. On one hand the economy of the country has been destroyed because of terrorism but on the other hand the rulers are borrowing more loans from the multilateral financial institutions which have further increased the burden of loans on the country. The tough conditionalities attached with these loans have further adversely affected the common citizens, who are facing increase in prices of essential food and other items, petroleum products, transport fares etc.

They Caravan leaders said that in the face of growing incidents of terrorism in the country, Pakistani rulers have miserably failed in their primary responsibility of protecting the lives of the citizens of Pakistan, while on the other hand they are wholly focused on the “war on terror”, which the NATO and US forces are subverting to serve their own vested interests in our region. This is evident from the fact that they show least concern for the mounting civilian causalities in the process of bombing the so-called terrorist hideouts. Besides, we find armed personnel of their private security companies roaming around and openly operating illegally in the country. The Caravan leaders emphasized that terrorism being a common problem in South Asia, needs to be dealt with at the regional level by the South Asian themselves through a joint South Asian mechanism without any interference from external forces.

They said people of Pakistan immediately need peace as they have already rejected the extremist elements including Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorists at all levels. People have also refused to accept the defective foreign policy of Pakistan, which is actually designed by international forces for their own vested interests.

The participants of the Caravan demand the following:

  • All the areas of Pakhtunkhwa province should be declared as “Calamity Hit” and the federal government should provide financial assistance to the people of Pakhtunkhwa. All the unemployed/out of work people of the province should be provided social protection and compensations.
  • Stringent measures should be taken against the elements who are spreading extremism and sectarian strife in the society.
  • US intervention in Pakistani foreign policy and Drone attacks in Pakistani areas should be stopped forthwith.
  • The government should prepare a comprehensive and effective programme for rehabilitation of the terrorism-hit families.
  • Special measures be taken for protection and rehabilitation of terrorism affected women and children.
  • All the unnecessary defence expenditures should be stopped and the funds should be spent on providing social protection to the working people.

Following were speakers at the press conference:

1. Karamat Ali (Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research- PILER)

2. Dr. Tipu Sultan (Pakistan Peace Coalition, Karachi Chapter)

3. Farid Awan (All Pakistan Trade Union Federation)

4. Mirza Maqsood (Mazdoor Mahaz-e-Amal)

5. Latif Mughal (Peoples Workers Union, KESC)

6. Saeed Baloch (Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum)

7. Rehana Yasmin (Hosiery Garments Textile Workers Union, Karachi)

Representatives of the following organizations are taking part in the “Peace Caravan.”

Pakistan Peace Coalition, Muttahida Labour Federation, Pakistan Trade Union Federation, Peoples Workers Union KESC, Awami Party Pakistan, ActionAid Karachi, Hosiery Garments Textile Workers Union, Karachi, Child and Labour Rights Welfare Organization, Bhandar Hari Sangat Hyderabad, Sungi Foundation Islamabad, Anjuman-e-Aishia Awam Lahore, Labour Quomi Movement Faisalabad, All Pakistan Bhatta Mazdoor Union, Railway Workers Union Pakistan, Humkhiyal Group Faisalabad, Omer Asghar Development Foundation Abbotabad, All Pakistan Trade Union Federation, Pakistan Workers Federation, Peoples Bureau, Awami National Party, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Sawera Welfare Organization, Karachi Power Loom General Workers Union, Choori Workers Union Hyderabad, Green Rural Development Organization Hyderabad, South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP-Pk), Bonded Labour Liberation Front, Labour Rights Committee Faisalabad, Awaz Foundation Multan, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, Sahara Development Foundation Haripur, Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC).

Ends