Lahore: Christians and Muslims stand for peace in Kashmir, against India-Pakistan skirmishes

September 25, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Pakistan, September 24, 2016: Christian and Muslim human rights activists have issued an appeal to the Indian and Pakistani governments to end growing tensions between the two countries over the contested region of Kashmir and solve their dispute in a peaceful way.

Speaking about the issue, Pakistan Human Rights Commission secretary general IA Rehman said that “This fit of lunacy must stop.” For him, it is about time people in both countries exert pressure on their governments to stop the escalation.

The Pakistani activist spoke at a national conference entitled ‘Democracy and human rights in Pakistan: Prospects and Challenges’, organised by the Centre for Human Rights Education (CHRE) in Lahore, Punjab.

As part of the event, promoters handed out white scarves and ribbons to participants to tie around the wrist as a sign of peace.

Local Church leaders share this concern.  Mgr Joseph Arshad, bishop of Faisalabad and president of the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Pakistani Bishops’ Conference, told AsiaNews that “We choose peace. The two countries are culturally close; they should sit down and talk. We need to take care of the human rights of all Kashmiris. Sure, it’s a sensitive matter but war is not the solution. ”

Relations between India and Pakistan alternate between periods of thaw and moments of open hostility. Since partition in 1947, the war of words between the two has never stopped and has intensified after 18 September when 18 Indian soldiers were killed in an attack on the Uri military base in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

New Delhi blames the attack – the deadliest in 15 years – on the Jaish-e-Mohammed jihadist group, an e organisation based in Pakistan, a country the Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh has described as a “terrorist state”.

Pakistani Foreign Ministry replied swiftly slamming India’s “obvious attempt” to divert attention from human rights violations in the area.

The attack against the Indian army came in the aftermath of massive street protests following the death of Burhan Wani, a well-known separatist leader, who was killed by security forces.

Clashes in the past two months have left at least 90 civilians dead with more than 13,000 injured.

Participants in this morning’s conference in Lahore analysed the attack of 18 September and the events that caused the rise in tension between the two governments.

For CHRE President Samson Salamat, a Christian, “white scarves reflect our desire for peace.” Likewise, “dialogue is the only solution” to work out conflicts “between two nuclear powers” that endanger “millions of people”. People, the activist noted, need “education, health and clean water.”

Other speakers at the conference also called for a stop to the “war of words” between India and Pakistan. Salman Abid, regional director of the ‘Strengthening Participatory Organisation’, said that the perception of Pakistan in terms of human rights and democracy is “critical”.

Hence, it is necessary to look at issues relating to social justice more closely and “counter belligerent slogans” that do not help the cause.

Calls for peace and dialogue between India and Pakistan have also appeared on social media. On Facebook, Muslim musician Taimur Rahman wrote, “Stop the sabre-rattling and emotional bullshit. We will not be manipulated into war with our neighbours. Share if you agree”.

– asianews

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