Pakistan-India Peoples' Forum for Peace and Democracy
India Secretariat: B-14 Gulmohar Park, New Delhi 110049, INDIA
Tel: +91-11-26561743 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pakistan Secretariat: 11 Temple Road, Lahore, PAKISTAN
Tel: +92-42-7223455 E-mail: email@example.com
India and Pakistan must act on the confidence building proposals now.
Response to Prime Minister Mir Zaffarullah Jamali's statement by Pakistan-India Peoples' Forum for Peace & Democracy
Pakistan-India Peoples' Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) welcomes Pakistan Prime Minister Mr. Mir Zafarullah Jamali's declaration of unilateral ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir. This is a most appropriate Eid gift to the peoples of India and Pakistan and particularly to the embattled peoples of Jammu and Kashmir. This initiative will help in reducing tension, building confidence and restoring normality in the region. We hope that India will reciprocate this initiative.
We are most encouraged by Mr. Jamali's reiteration of the proposal to open a bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad. In the Simla Agreement both Pakistan and India had agreed to respect the LoC without prejudice to the stated positions of either side on Jammu and Kashmir. We are excited by the fact that the two governments have now indicated their willingness to allow the peoples of the divided territory of Jammu and Kashmir to visit each other. We hope that the opening of the bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad will be followed by similar bus services between Jammu and Mirpur and Jammu and Kotli. This will strengthen the civil society of Jammu and Kashmir, reduce violence and help build a democratic consensus in Jammu and Kashmir.
Since 1994 members of PIPFPD from both countries have been asking for removal of all impediments to cross border travel by the citizens of India and Pakistan. We have also urged the two government to open more offices for the issue of visas. In fact, we have urged the two governments to introduce a visa-on arrival system on all entry points as has been done by the government of Sri Lanka for all citizens of the SAARC countries. This is essential for encouraging people to people dialogue and building confidence at the grassroots level.
We appreciate that Pakistan has already issued a notification allowing persons over 65 years of age to cross the Wagha border on foot. We hope that India will immediately reciprocate this initiative of Pakistan by issuing a similar notification. We also request the Indian government to respond to Pakistan Prime Minister's proposal to work out a mechanism for the release of all cross border prisoners who have already completed their sentences from each other's custody before the end of the year.
We also request Pakistan to favourably respond to the Indian Minister for External Affair's earlier proposals for creation of a 'hotline' between the coast guards, non-arrest of fishermen at sea and resumption of sporting contacts. The proposal to restart the ëSamjhauta Expressí deserves immediate attention, as it is the most convenient and affordable means of transportation of the majority of the people. The introduction of an additional Delhi-Lahore Bus service and a Lahore-Amritsar bus service are most welcome suggestions.
We thank Mr. Jamali for this promising response to the 12-point confidence building proposals of the Minister for External Affairs of India almost a month ago. We are aware that in the past, both India and Pakistan have made offers and the counter offers to each other, which include several of these proposals. We urge the two governments not to let the present initiative to be destroyed by arguments about who made which proposal first. The peoples of India and Pakistan yearn for peace. We expect that this time the two governments will go beyond verbal rhetoric and make this confidence building measure a reality.
Tapan Kumar Bose Anis Haroon
General Secretary Secretary General
November 25, 2003
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