By Saurabh Sharma
“If given a chance I would walk a half way to restore the peace with India” - said the president of Pakistan Muslim League, Nawaz Sharif to an Indian Delegation led by Kuldip Nayar, the veteran journalist and former High Commissioner to UK।
After the terrorist attack on Mumbai, tension between both the countries has risen to stratospheric level। Civil groups from both the nations have stepped in to diffuse this tension and salvage the peace process.
The Pakistani delegation led by Asma Jahangir, the chair person of Human Rights Commission, Pakistan, toured India between 21st and 24th January। To reciprocate the same message of peace an Indian delegation visited Pakistan from 22 to 26th of February.
The 13-member delegation comprised eminent filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, social activists Swami Agnivesh, Dr। Hanif Lakdawala, Kamla Bhasin, educationist Kamal Mitra Chenoy, journalist Seema Mustafa, peace activist Ramesh Yadav, former diplomat Salman Haider and Shabnam Hashmi, the member of National Integration Council among others.
The main aim of the delegation was to strengthen the civil society of Pakistan and to generate heat and enthusiasm of some sort to lunge forward the peace process that came to a screeching halt after the Mumbai attack।
Mr. Kuldip Nayar stressed on the composite dialogue between both the countries - “We went to Lahore and Islamabad and met with a wide section of society. The one thing which came out strongly was that people of Pakistan want peace with India quickly.”
“There was no war hysteria and we did not hear any anti-India. We did convey them that there is no war hysteria even in India. Except some TV channels saying that on both the sides.” he added।
The Indian delegation met various Pakistani government officials, leaders of all the major political parties, important members of civil societies and also the representatives of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce।
Swami Agnivesh said that Kashmir issue took the back seat as usual। “People were more focused on the ties between the two countries. They want cultural exchange and more people to people contact”, he said.
Truce between Taliban and Pakistan government in SWAT valley was also discussed by the delegation। According to Pakistani officials, around thirty to thirty five thousand terrorists are holding the SWAT valley. Most of these terrorists are not from Pakistan but from fourteen different nationalities and southern Punjab.
Chenoy said that people within Pakistan are not happy with the recent developments in their country। They think they are the bigger victims of terrorism and are disappointed with the government. They want India to help them in the fight against terrorism rather than blaming them.
On referring to the peace treaty with Taliban Chenoy mentioned, one of the former diplomats of Pakistan claimed that they make one concession to these people who lever this concession for further concessions।
The delegation members also pointed that lot of Pakistanis believes that America had a sway over Pakistani governance, partially ruling them। They are the ones who are calling the shots, directing the military officers and political establishment. The bombing by the drone aircrafts in the western border of Pakistan, in which some civilians were killed, has further provoked the common people.
On the issue of Mumbai attack, the officials of Pakistan told the delegation that they are doing their best। Recently 246 people have been detained in connection with the blast. Many are already under house arrest. They are also seeking more evidences from India. What India provided may not be enough to prove in the court of law. So they are asking for more evidences and searching it within Pakistan.
“The media of Pakistan were also very supportive. We were chased by the media and people through out our visit”, said Kamla Bhasin. This enthusiasm was missing on the Indian side. “We hope that media would play a bigger role in shaping the relations between both countries”, she added.
By Saurabh Sharma