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India and Pakistan: Step Back from the Brink - Calls by Concerned Citizens for Restraint and De-escalation | Select Statements, Op-eds etc [Feb-March 2019]

28 February 2019

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This page contains Calls from Concerned Citizens for restraint and De-escalation between India and Pakistan | Select Statements, Op-eds etc [Feb-March 2019] [updated on 4 March 2019]

(1) List of Peace Demonstrations to Stop Escalating Tensions Between India and Pakistan

SATURDAY, 2 March:
MUMBAI: Saturday March 2, 4pm Shivaji Park
Join the 2020 Walk The Future
SUNDAY 3 March:
WASHINGTON DC: 3 pm, @DuPont Circle
BOSTON: 4.30 pm @ MIT main entrance -
LONDON: 2pm @ Tavistock Square (venue updated)
DALLAS: 12 -1 pm@ Al Markaz Restaurant
KOLKATA: 5 pm @ Iran Society 12 Kyd Street, Kolkata 700016 (Opp MLA Hostel)
MICHIGAN: 6pm @ 22575 Ann Arbor Trl, Dearborn Heigh
DELHI - Two events:
1 - 10:00 am -6:00 pm with Youth for Peace International, Youth Alliance Office, Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi 110024
2 - 8.00 pm at Red Fort with Artists Unite
LAHORE: 4 pm @ Lahore Press Club
MONDAY, 4 March
KARACHI - 3-5 pm outside Karachi Press Club
Facebook page for GlobalStandOutForPeace:
News Reports and Photos of Demonstrations:
Photo of Anti War Rally in Lahore 28 Feb 2019
Civil society holds rallies demanding peace, expressing solidarity
Photo of Anti War Protest Demo in Karachi (March 2019)

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2. Concerned Citizens & Civil Society Groups Speak up for Peace

(i) To Govt’s of Pakistan and India: "Appeal for Reason" from 600+ concerned Indian citizens

(ii) Hold the Fire After Pulwama Attack - Text of Letter by Former Chief of Naval Staff to the President of India by Admiral L Ramdas (retd)

(iii) Text of Joint Statement by the National Committees PIPFPD of India and Pakistan (26 February 2019)

(iv) CNDP Statement on Ongoing Indo-Pak Armed Conflict (28 February 2019)

(v) Say no to war: Journalists from India, Pakistan call for peace

(vi) FORUM-ASIA deeply concerned about current tensions between Pakistan and India

(Bangkok, 27 February 2019) – The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) is deeply concerned over the rapid escalation of the tension between Pakistan and India, and urges both Governments to show restraint and caution to assure recent incidents do not accelerate into a full-out confrontation. No one benefits from renewed violent conflict between the two neighbouring nuclear-weapon States. Not in the least the people from both countries. Instead, we call on the Governments of both India and Pakistan to set-aside their animosity, and collaborate to investigate and address recent incidents that have led to the current tensions.

‘A war will not benefit either country. I,nstead it will only cause heartache and damages to the lives of ordinary people. Pakistan and India should sit together for a dialogue, so tensions can be resolved peacefully,’ said John Samuel, the Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA, ‘Even a prolonged stand-off will only cause unnecessary tensions and further undermine the little trust that exists between the countries.’

FORUM-ASIA strongly condemns actions taken on both sides to arrive at the current confrontation. The human rights of people on both sides have been violated in the process. History has taught us that in armed confrontation between the neighbouring countries such human rights violations will only deteriorate, with serious and lasting consequences.

FORUM-ASIA further urges the international community to come together to denounce any sort of violent or armed conflict between the two countries, and to offer any form of support and assistance to assure a peaceful and non-violent solution, which is respectful of the human rights of all involved.

[See original PDF statement here ]

(vii) Statement from the AGHS Lahore office (founded by the late Asma Jahangir)

(viii) Statement from Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD)

via Arun Mitra [on Facebook]

Date: 27.02.2019

Press Note

The Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) are perturbed at the escalation of tension between India and Pakistan. The ongoing air strikes will lead to development of extremely serious situation. In the statement Dr S S Soodan- President IDPD, Dr Shakeel Ur Rahman- General Secretary and Dr Arun Mitra- Sr. Vice President IDPD said that we demand both governments of Indian & Pakistan to show restraint and avoid any war like situation. We further demand immediate measures from both sides to de-escalate the situation and de-militarize borders by withdrawing troops to the peace time level.

We also take serious note of the negative role of by some of electronic media in eulogizing the war. They should stop such programmes and talk of peace instead. We demand from the governments of both Pakistan and India to initiate meaningful dialogue involving various stakeholders.

Dr Arun Mitra
Sr. Vice President
M: 9417000360

(ix) Some Strident Voices via The Media

Hashtags for War Between India and Pakistan

Social media has been taken over by warmongers in the nuclear-armed neighbours

by Fatima Bhutto

Ms. Bhutto is a writer from Pakistan.

The New York Times Feb. 27, 2019

Pakistan and India, two nuclear armed states, have fought many wars since our partition in 1947. Our militaries have faced off in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999. Between those wars, there have been numerous skirmishes, cross-border strikes and accusations of covert support for terrorism.

I have never seen my country at peace with its neighbor. But never before have I seen a war played out between two nuclear-armed states with Twitter accounts.

On Feb. 14, a suicide bomber hit a convoy of paramilitary forces in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Jaish-e-Mohammad, a militant group based in Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the attack. India accused Pakistan of orchestrating the bombing. Pakistan denied the allegation and maintained that it would act on intelligence shared but that none had been given.

On Tuesday, India flew fighter planes across Pakistani territory, engaging the Indian and Pakistani Air Forces in dogfights for the first time since 1971. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, up for re-election in two months time, claimed to have hit a terrorist training camp in the Balakot area in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, killing 300 militants. Pakistan’s military spokesman, Major General Asif Ghafoor, denied the claims, saying that Indian war planes dropped their payloads without causing any casualties or damage to infrastructure.

On social media, Indian journalists celebrated the strike with glee; Bollywood stars who have only play-acted in wars sent their Twitter congratulations: “mess with the best, die like the rest,” tweeted Ajay Devgn. “What an explosive morning!” Raveena Tandon cheered. Kangana Ranaut, promoting a film, weighed in that barring Pakistani artists from Bollywood “is not the focus, Pakistan destruction is,” and any voices calling for peace and restraint were immediately labeled anti-national traitors. Hashtags were thrown in the air like confetti: #indiastrikesback, #terroristanpakistan, #pakapologist.

In Pakistan, for once, there was more sober reflection. While some called for revenge, many Pakistanis, myself included, refused to cheerlead for war. There were, of course, odd voices in between. Hamid Mir, a Pakistani journalist, visited Jabba village in the Balakot area the next day and standing in a lush, leafy forest reported that there was no infrastructural damage visible, no funerals, no blood and no bodies. He found only one body on the spot, he corrected himself, and pointed to a dead black crow.

Today we stand on the precipice of further violence and escalation. Pakistan claims to have shot down two Indian jets that flew over its airspace, and it is confirmed that it has one Indian Air Force pilot in custody. Right-wing trolls who proliferate across the border quickly trended #pakfakeclaim before the Indian government confirmed the capture of Wing Commander Abhinandan.

While some Pakistani commentators rushed to match their Indian counterparts’ gloating — #Pakistanstrikesback (no points for originality) — and shared video clips of cheering and slogan-shouting, many of us continue to refuse to hashtag our country down the path of nuclear war.

Pakistan’s recent history has been bloody, and no one has suffered that violence more than its own citizens. But our long history with military dictatorships and experience of terrorism and uncertainty means that my generation of Pakistanis have no tolerance, no appetite, for jingoism or war. In the afternoon, #saynotowar began to trend in Pakistan, before hitting the worldwide No. 1 spot on Twitter.

Even Prime Minister Imran Khan, of whom I have long been a vocal critic, surprised me when he appeared on television in the afternoon and called for peace. “My question to the Indian government is that with the weapons we both have, can we afford a miscalculation? If it escalates, where will it go?” Mr. Khan asked. It is the only moral stand that either country can take.

Both India and Pakistan have a duty to maintain that profoundly moral stand at a time when hysteria is at a high. A 2007 report written by a co-founder of an antinuclear organization Physicians for Social Responsibility found that a nuclear war between India and Pakistan could result in the deaths of one to two billion people around the world from starvation. The ozone layer would be irreparably damaged, and hundreds of millions more would perish as a result of disease, food shortages and crop damage.

I and many other young Pakistanis have called upon our country to release the captured Indian pilot as a gesture of our commitment to peace, humanity and dignity. We have spent a lifetime at war. I do not want to see Pakistani soldiers die. I do not want to see Indian soldiers die. We cannot be a subcontinent of orphans.

My generation of Pakistanis have fought for the right to speak, and we are not afraid to lend our voices to that most righteous cause: peace.

Fatima Bhutto is the author, most recently, of the novel “The Runaways.”

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For Kashmir, there is only one strategy left to try: peace

by Mirza Waheed

India and Pakistan should ground their warplanes and start talking instead. Intransigence isn’t the answer

The Guardian, 27 Feb 2019

In the summer of 1999, I was standing outside our ancestral home in Srinagar, the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, when I saw fighter jets roar past in the skies above me. The Indian air force was carrying out sorties towards the mountainous district of Kargil to dislodge Pakistani militants and, as we found out later, Pakistani soldiers. The troops had quietly occupied the snow-capped peaks as part of a stealth operation masterminded by the then Pakistani general and future president Pervez Musharraf.

The sight and sound of sophisticated military hardware provided a brief thrill, but it soon turned into panic. What if these bombers dropped their lethal cache on our home? At night, as I lay in bed, I imagined our neighbourhood as rubble from which acrid smoke rose. I imagined dear ones lying dead in homes and on streets, like in war films. I saw friends and myself as bodies in pools of blood. It was terrifying.

I was reminded of those febrile, frightening times, during the Kargil war, which lasted two months, as news came of the latest episode in the 71-year-old military conflict over this disputed region in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Indian fighter jets this week crossed into Pakistani territory to target – according to Indian officials – a militant camp run by Jaish-e-Mohammed. JeM, a Pakistan-based Islamist group, had claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed 44 Indian paramilitaries in Kashmir on 14 February. Indian officials said the airstrike killed “a very large number of militants” in the camp, in the forests of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. They said the incident had been a “pre-emptive strike”, as India had intelligence that the group was planning more attacks. Pakistan rejected the claim, insisting that India’s incursion had not caused any damage, and the Pakistani government stated it would respond to the strikes “at the time and place of its choosing”.

In a major tit-for-tat escalation of the conflict, that response came on Tuesday, when Pakistan said its air force had shot down two Indian fighter jets. A spokesperson said that one of the planes had fallen in Pakistani territory and two pilots had been captured. India’s foreign ministry confirmed the loss of a fighter plane and said a pilot was missing. A video purportedly showing the captured pilot appeared on the internet. This came soon after Pakistan said it had carried out airstrikes across the line of control – one of the most heavily militarised borders in the world – that divides part of Kashmir. (China controls another part in the east.)

Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, has suggested the strikes were political, carried out for “domestic consumption” by his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, ahead of national elections in May. There may well be some truth in this statement. Kashmir has been used as a pawn in the political power struggle in the region between India and Pakistan ever since partition.

Amid claims and counterclaims, the two countries have gone back to their old duel, exchanging artillery shells across the de facto border. There are already reports of injuries to civilians in border villages. I called my family in Srinagar to check if they were all right. Like most Kashmiris, they are used to living under long sieges, but they are worried now as food supplies, gas and petrol are short. In panic, people have stocked up on medicines and babyfood. They pray the war ends before it starts.

The long-running war began soon after the decolonisation of south Asia, in 1947. Under the partition plan agreed between the countries and Britain, their erstwhile colonial ruler, Kashmir was to be free to join either India or Pakistan, its statehood settled via a UN-mandated plebiscite. But as Maharaja Hari Singh, then king of independent Kashmir, dithered, tribesmen from Pakistan’s North-West Frontier province moved in. The king, who had wanted Kashmir to stay independent, asked India for help, resulting in a year-long war.

Fighting again flared in 1965, coming to an end after Soviet mediation. The Kargil war, which resulted in heavy casualties on both sides, was brought to an end when the then US president, Bill Clinton, intervened. This month’s dramatic escalation follows a long season of bloodletting. Since January 2018, nearly 600 people, including civilians, militants and soldiers, have been killed. Hundreds of Kashmiri civilians have also been wounded, scores of them blinded by pellet guns Indian forces have used to quell civilian protests. Kashmir has become a vast cauldron of sadness, fear and anger.

Now, amid comic-book celebrations of war on both sides, there exists a real danger that the decades of low-intensity war may turn uglier. The two countries’ leaders are being exhorted, in TV studios and on social media, to take tough action. In their unsightly quest for prime-time ratings, these armchair warriors do not seem to care that the clamour for more war means copious bloodshed in faraway borderlands. It will be Kashmiris who will bear the brunt of such a destructive turn of events.

Given this backdrop, India and Pakistan must surely now realise that resolving Kashmir is an infinitely better course of action than war. The nuclear-armed rivals have been here before, many times, and the fact that they’re now in yet another conflict can mean only one thing: that their past actions haven’t worked for either country – and most definitely not for Kashmir. It is time for the two states to give up their intransigent positions.

An old uncle of mine once told me: you can always go back to war if peace doesn’t work.

It’s time to make efforts to avert a full-fledged conflagration that will create widespread carnage.

• Mirza Waheed is theauthor of the novels The Collaborator, The Book of Gold Leaves and Tell Her Everything

(x) Whipping up of War Hysteria

(vii) Reckless TV Anchors Enthusiatically Served War As Entertainment and Blocked Air Passenger Traffic Gave a Little Taste of the Morning After to the Middle Classes; There have been attacks in India on shops with Names of cities now in Pakistan
Map of Closed Air Space over Pakistan and North India (27 Feb 2019)
Indian TV stations whipped up war hysteria - studio backdrops on 25, 26 Feb had war rooms written on them
News anchors on some Pakistani TV channels seen wearing military uniforms
Cricket or combat?, Editorialin Dawn March 13, 2019
Certain politicians of the ruling party in India are now making political capital out of the post pulwama military confrontation by Pakistan.


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India: End Mob Justice and Discrimination - Protect Kashmiri Students and Traders After Pulwama Attack | Statement by PADS


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