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International Day of Peace

International Day of Peace, 21 September 2010

Youth for Peace and Development

The International Day of Peace, observed each year on 21 September, is a global call for ceasefire and non-violence. This year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling on young people around the world to take a stand for peace under the theme, Youth for Peace and Development.

Children

UNMIT / UN Photo

The United Nations is looking for stories from young people around the world who are working for peace. The campaign slogan this year is Peace=Future, The math is easy.”

This year, the International Day of Peace (IDP) falls within the same time period as a major summit on the Millennium Development Goals, the world’s largest anti-poverty campaign. The Summit brings world leaders together at the United Nations in New York from 
20 - 22 September.

In addition, the UN General Assembly has proclaimed 2010 as International Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding. A campaign to be launched by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) on 12 August will promote the ideals of respect for human rights and solidarity across generations, cultures, religions, and civilizations. Those are key elements that reinforce the foundations of a sustainable peace.

Youth, peace and development are closely interlinked: Peace enables development, which is critical in providing opportunities for young people, particularly those in countries emerging from conflict. Healthy, educated youth are in turn crucial to sustainable development and peace. Peace, stability and security are essential to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, aimed at slashing poverty, hunger, disease, and maternal and child death by 2015.

The Secretary-General has recognized the incredible potential of youth which must be tapped to ensure these goals are met in their lifetimes.

Each year, the Secretary-General, his Messengers of Peace, the entire UN system and many individuals, groups and organizations around the world use the Day of Peace to engage in activities that contribute to ceasefires, end conflict, bridge cultural divides and create tolerance.

On 13 June 2010, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the 100-day countdown to the International Day of Peace, calling on young people around the world to submit their stories via social media, detailing what they do for peace.

Watch this space for some of those stories.

* * *

The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by resolution 36/67 of the United Nations General Assembly to coincide with its opening session, which was held annually on the third Tuesday of September. The first Peace Day was observed in September 1982. In 2001, the General Assembly by unanimous vote adopted resolution 55/282, which established 21 September as an annual day of non-violence and cease-fire. The UN invites all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.

 

PEACE

Peace is a process. Its not an event.
Peace is something you make. something you do.
Peace is a verb.Peace is a series of choices and decisions
It must be defended. It must be fought for.
Peace is not a cozy corner it is the center of everything
Peace is not quiet. Peace is loud
Abigail Disney   (inspired by the words of Liberian activist Etweda"sugars" Cooper)

 

A choice of 9/11s

 

It may well be the oddest date in history.

However much they dominate our present, the human missiles of 2001 don’t have a unique claim on 9/11.

It was on September 11, 1906, that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi first articulated the concept of ‘satyagraha’, non-violent resistance, at a public meeting in South Africa. His rigorous application of this philosophy over the next 40 years earned Gandhi the title of Mahatma – great soul. It also gave the modern world a powerful new political tool for dealing with conflict and hurt.

It was on September 11, 1893 that an Indian monk, Swami Vivekananda, was overwhelmed by a three minute standing ovation at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. Reverberations of his appeal for universal brotherhood persist today beside the buzz of protest and counter-protest over Park51.

It was on September 11, 1609 that Henry Hudson became the first European to set foot on an island which natives called ‘Menatay’ – our present day Manhattan. Hudson’s landing, somewhere in the vicinity of today’s Ground Zero, was a precursor to European settlements and mass death of native populations.

A collage of all four 9/11s can potentially serve as a map quest – showing us different pathways to resolving the tussle between co-existence and conflict, faith and reason.

Full article at  http://www.opendemocracy.net/rajni-bakshi/choice-of-911s

 

 

Joint Statement of Indian Muslim leaders on the attacks and burning of Christian properties

"We disapprove disrespect to any religion or desecration of any sacred scripture or vilification of any religious personality or attack on any religious place, anywhere in the world, and consider it a despicable and uncivilized act. Islam specifically prohibits such acts and behaviour. Therefore, whatever the provocation, we strongly condemn the attacks on Christian properties and institutions in some places in Kashmir and in Maler Kotla in the Indian state of Punjab. We urge the authorities concerned to take stern legal action against the culprits.


We also appeal to our Muslim brethren in India, in particular, and elsewhere, in general, to show restraint in such situations and limit their disapproval and protest against such incidents to peaceful demonstrations, press statements and memoranda to the authorities concerned."


Issued by:
Syed Shahabuddin, President, All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat
Nusrat Ali, Secretary General, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind
Asaduddin Owaisi, MP, Leader, Majlis Ittehadul Muslimin
Dr Zafar Mahmood, President, Interfaith Coalition & Zakat Foundation of India
Navaid Hamid, General Secretary, Movement for the Empowerment of Muslim Indians (MOEMIN)
Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, Editor, The Milli Gazette & former-President, AIMMM


New Delhi, 14 September 2010

 

 

Bridging the Divides

Delhi People Did it…


Wahid Ur Rehman

My first question to people across India after the recent violence was, "Why do you only remember Kashmir for  its tourism, honeymoon vacations,   and sightseeing? Why don’t you protest and shed tears for what has happened to us?" I was especially puzzled that active members of India's civil society organizations outside Kashmir were not speaking out. I wrote to the Home Minister and others to try to get them to understand how terrible things are in Kashmir, but I was not sure that my protests were being heard.

During this time I got a notice from Manushi informing me that a group named Citizens First Forum had been formed and will be raising its voice to protest the recent human rights violations in the Valley.
I learned that a Memorandum would be submitted to the UPA Chairperson that would outline steps that she should take to bring Peace to the Valley The same group was also organizing a Candle Light Vigil  at
Central Park, Connaught Place in the heart of Delhi for that same date, September 3, 2010.

I was surprised that Citizens First Forum had been able to react so quickly at such a crucial time; we Kashmiri were hoping to find people outside the Valley who were concerned about what was happening to us. It gave us a feeling of apnapan, (warmth and caring), being cared about by people from India as their own. Money and relief packages doled out by the Central Government can’t yield the same result.

While I was in Kashmir, I received a personal call from Madhu Kishwar asking me to be a part of this movement. Without hesitating for a moment I told her I would join them on 3rd September.

When I got to Delhi and reached Manushi's office I found it all in disorder. Nearly 20 people were spread out on mattresses all over the place. I was surprised to find that all these were young students from
J&K – part of a musical band named Youth Expressions—who had come to perform at the solidarity event organized by Manushi. The chaos was due to the fact that Manushi office had been converted into a camping site for these Kashmiri youngsters for the length of their 4 day stay in Delhi. I felt deeply moved by the fact that an organization in Delhi had opened its doors in this manner to Kashmiris in order to
build bridges of understanding between the people of Kashmir and people in the rest of India.

The whole group at Manushi, and especially Madhu, were very tired, but kept working late into the night on the program for the 3rd. She was hunting for photos of those who had been killed in the Valley during
the present turmoil, making placards, preparing faxes, arranging candles, and doing many other things, all at the same time. It was really hectic in the office.

On the day of the candle light vigil, we went to the Congress Party head quarters to submit a Memorandum to the UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi. Hundreds of people had gathered there to celebrate Sonia Gandhi’s reelection as President of Congress. But for me the people who mattered were those who came in response to Manushi’s call for solidarity with and to demand justice for Kashmiris. They had given up their own busy schedules for the sake of Kashmir and Kashmiris, many
holding some of the same types of placards we carried in Kashmir. It was really a moving sight to witness such a demonstration in Delhi for the first time. Even the media people who showed up were confused. They found it hard to believe that this was happening in Delhi and that too right outside Sonia Gandhi’s office.

Later we moved towards Central Park in Connaught Place, the heart of Delhi. There hundreds of people assembled and held a Candle Light vigil in loving memory of those young school children and men killed in the present turmoil. The Kashmiri musical band  Youth Expressions sang some Sufi songs in memory of the victims. This was followed by sufi/bhakti music by Madan Gopal Singh, Deepak Castelino, Zakir Dholpuri, Pritam Ghoshal, Bindu Chawla and Vatsla Mehra. A cross section of people from Delhi, including artists, professors, journalists, doctors and two retired army generals—General JP Gupta
and Major General Lakhwinder Singh and Amitabha Pande retired IAS officer-- joined the vigil. Madhu handled the introductions on the dais. She was really concerned and caring about Kashmir. I was
astonished that Kashmiris were getting so much support in Delhi. I never remember this happening before. Had we received this help a bit before things erupted, there would have been an entirely different
situation in the Valley today.

During the protest Madhu invited me onto the stage to describe the actual ground level situation in the Kashmir Valley. When I spoke some of the things I said were harsh and might have seemed offensive to
some people because I was blunt in my criticism of the political leaders who let loose a reign of terror to crush very genuine protests against the killing of innocents. Nevertheless, the response from the
audience was really supportive and understanding. I never spoke like that before in my life; they give me confidence because they were sympathetic toward Kashmiris.

As soon as the news of this event reached the Valley I got a  enthusiastic response from the people there as well. They asked me a lot of questions on the phone like, "How, Who, When and Where". They
were very curious and moved that people across India have started caring about them. I found a spirit of optimism in their voices while talking with me. They think this protest and demonstration by people
in Delhi has given recognition to their loved ones who were killed in past months.

They found that their own sufferings, deaths of loved ones and protests didn’t happen in vain; at least some of the people of India have started realizing their pain and grief.

At the end I can only say, let's be thankful to the people of Delhi who love us as part of their own families; Let’s be the change we want to see.

Because, we are the people
We are the children,
We are the future, &
We are the ones who will make a brighter day.

 

Madhu Purnima Kishwar
Editor, Manushi Journal,
Founder, Manushi Sangathan
Tel: 011 23978851, 23916437.
Visit Manushi www.manushi.in
Madhu Kishwar blog at www.madhukishwar.in

 

 

Probably nowhere in the world are people of two countries as emotionally entwined as are the people of India and Pakistan.
Political separation and blood-spattered migration of millions has left deep scars on the collective consciousness of the two nations.
Post-partition, our tumultuous history has been interspersed with four wars and loss of innumerable innocent lives. Fundamentalist groups ensure that the fires of animosity are kept alive while Kashmir continues to burn, threatening to take the two countries on a course of self-destruction.
And yet even as the heart that might harbour hatred and distrust, upon meeting ‘the other’ surges forth to embrace the ‘enemy’, to offer and reciprocate warmth and friendship. Common people on both sides want peace and normal relations to be established between the two countries. How do we explain this?
Even though geographical boundaries have been forced upon us by historical circumstances, our common customs and traditions, our language, music, food, our values and way of life – continue to bind us  together. Even our problems – of poverty and unemployment,  of crisis in governance, in health, in education - are the same. On both sides, our people are pushed to the peripheries of poverty by unjust models of economic development. Can we afford this hostility?
So while the two governments make slow and intermittent steps to establish peace, depending on their current political will and strategic exigencies, we feel that if genuine peace and friendship has to be established between the two countries giving a chance to real progress and development, the initiative will have to be taken by the people themselves - by the poor, the women, the tribals, the working masses, by us - who are made most vulnerable by this continuous atmosphere of antagonism and war.
Various such peoples’ initiatives for peace have been witnessed over the last many years, the Indo-Pakistan Delhi to Multan Peace March in 2005 being one of them. In the spirit of sufi saints and poets who spoke of love, Padyatris walked from Delhi to Multan spreading the message of love and brotherhood in the hope that our governments would recognise that the spirit of give and take, of mutual co-operation and friendship will bring progress and development to our subcontinent and to South Asia.

Witnessing the ongoing blow-hot blow-cold attempts of our governments towards the process of dialogue, we are once again emboldened to take up another joint people to people initiative
- the Indo-Pakistan Peace Caravan, Amn ke Badhte Qadam.

Peace & development are possible only in an environment of trust & goodwill: this, indeed, is the message of this Peace Caravan.  The Peace Caravan is travelling through villages, towns, cities – interacting with people from Mumbai to Wagah, from Karachi to Attari – to build an atmosphere of trust & friendship and to gather our collective strength to pressurise our governments to end hostility.
We understand that our objectives cannot be achieved through just this effort. We also believe that this Peace Caravan is just one element in the many initiatives being taken up by the two peoples. Let us, then, join hands for the sustained creation and development of an environment of trust, goodwill and peace between the two countries – indeed, in South Asia as a whole.
We ask you to lend your commitment to bring in peace and ask our governments to adhere to the following objectives:
1. Movement of people across the borders should be made easier. Normalisation of relations can happen only if people are allowed to freely and easily meet and interact with each other. Restrictions on movement across the border should be eased and in fact the visa-passport regime should be removed. Heeding to the wishes and aspirations of the people of both countries, a mutually agreed upon and monitored open border system should prevail (like in the case of India – Nepal)
2. India and Pakistan must resolve issues with a commitment to unconditional friendship. A solution to all contentious issues should be found peacefully through mutual dialogue. These issues include the issue of Jammu and Kashmir (which, in our view, should be resolved by taking into consideration the wishes and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir), and the issue of terror-related activities on account of which the people of both countries are suffering. Both countries must end proxy, low intensity wars against each other & restrain their intelligence agencies from fomenting trouble across the border.
3. India and Pakistan should dismantle their atomic-nuclear establishments, destroy landmines and withdraw the army. Real security lies not in the piling of arms and ammunition but in building a relationship based on mutual trust. Besides proving harmful to one’s own citizens, underground landmines and nuclear bombs use up precious financial resources that we can ill-afford. Both countries should stop wasting resources in the name of defence, and use them instead for the eradication of poverty.

Organizations : Institute for Peace and Secular Studies, Sangat – A South Asian Feminist Network, South Asia Partnership, PEACE, Labour Party, INSAF, CMKP, Centre for Study of Secularism and Society, Peace Keepers, Asha Parivar, Democratic Commission for Human Development, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Punjabi Khoj Ghar, ANHAD, Giyan Foundation, Kriti, Himmat, Seimorgh, Ayodhya ki Awaz, Tehrik-e-Niswan, Swayam, PILER, Phule Ambedkar Vichar Manch, Mass Foundation, Jagori, National Youth Forum, NCDHR, People’s Development Foundation, Sadbhav Mission, ASR, NACDOR, IPSS, Disha, NCJP, COVA, Bulleh Shah Foundation, Dosti Trust, IGSSS, Shahri Adhikar Manch, Women Action Forum, Sungi Development Foundation, Global Gandhi Forum, Mumbai Sarvodaya Mandal, Awami Bharat, SUPRO (Bangladesh), Jana Avakasha (Sri Lanka), Help-O (Sri Lanka) Focus on the Global South, Peace Mumbai, Pakistan - India People’s Forum, Sadbhavana Sangh, Manibhavan, Gandhi Sangrahalaya, Sarva Seva Sangh, Sadbhavna cell.


I am not the wall that divides , I am a crack in that wall
 

Peace assembly concludes in Basantapur with thousands praying for lasting peace in the country.

A peace assembly to pressure the political parties to come to a consensus to end the current political impasse' has concluded in Basantapur, in the heart of Kathmandu.

 

People from various walks of life, representatives of professional bodies, civil society members and others gathered for the peace rally at Basantapur Durbar Square, Friday, 07 May 2010.

 

Peace with Pakistan
Give Tommorow A Chance

What we need is wider and deeper engagement to clear the misconceptions we harbour about each other. There's an unfortunate notion some of us that Pakistan's rub their hands in glee every time we're struck by terror. Far from it -  26/11, in particular, left them shocked and saddened. Just as most Indians are moved to tears by the sight of a father in Lahore or Karachi or Multan cradling the body of a daughter killed a bomb...

The Times of India, Mumbai, 01 Jan 2010

 

Human Rights Day in Mumbai

COME TOGETHER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

 

All human beings are born equal and free

All human beings can be what they want to be

 

On International Human Right's Day

Let's uphold our own dignity, our own freedom

 

Would you stay quiet if your brother is killed for demanding water? A peaceful congregation in Mumbai raises its voice against the unequal distribution of water. A police lathi-charge on the demonstration kills a protester, and nobody bothers!

 

Would you stay quiet if the military threw you out of your comfortable home?Sadly, this is our brethren in another part of the country has to face, daily. Chhattisgarh simmers as the Centre wages a war against tribals. Paramilitary forces drive away forests' original inhabitants. And a corporate-backed government paves way for mining companies - the new colonialists!

 

Would you still stay quiet if the military picked you up on mere suspicion? Sadly, citizens in the North East are facing exactly such a gory situation.

 

You have the right to dissent!

You have the right to speak out!

You have the right to fight it out!

 

Committee for the Release of Binayak Sen (CRBS) which comprises several groups organised a programme of Songs! Dance! Lejim! Tableau! 10th Dec. Outside Dadar Station E.

 

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE RELIGIOUS

 Asghar Ali Engineer


There is great misunderstanding both among believers and non-believers about what it means to be religious. For most of the believers religion is a set of rituals, appearance or even a set of dogmas and superstitions whereas for non-believers (rationalists and empiricists) it is nothing but irrational beliefs, dogmas and superstitions which impede human progress and also cause of violence and destruction. Even terrorism, they believe, is due to religion.

 

Then the question arises why millions of people believe in religion? The rationalists maintain it is because of illiteracy and irrationalism. But then many highly educated people also believe in religion so it is not easy to assign it only to illiteracy alone. And all those who believe in religion are not superstitious. Many of them are quite rational and even accept science and scientific methods without reservation. Sir Syed even maintained that there cannot be contradiction between word of God (Qur’an) and work of God (Nature and laws of nature). Moreover many great scientists have been believers in religion)

 

Then the question arises what it means to be truly religious? For ordinary people (including educated ones) religion is mixed bag. It comprises dogmas, customs and traditions which come from our culture rather than religion. Religion, once it becomes a powerful establishment, represents more of vested interests than religious teachings and values. It loses its dynamism. Interests become supreme rather than real spirit of religion.

 

Also, dogmas become more central than change as change for many believers bring a sense of insecurity and uncertainty whereas they believe in religion to ensure inner security. Also, dogmas ensure constancy of leadership as any change brings shift from orthodox leadership to modern leadership and orthodox leadership is better able to manipulate and control peoples for most people religion is a matter of belief rather than thinking and reflection.

 

In fact in its higher reaches religion is neither superstition, nor dogma and mere rituals. Religion poses problems when it is made to serve different human needs and interests. As water finds its own level, religion too finds its own level in unevenly developed society. For those who remain illiterate and backward it becomes a source of solace which is better served by dogmas and superst6itions rather than thinking and change.

 

However for highly educated and developed sections of society it becomes a source of values and philosophy and invites them to reflect on God’s creation. Qur’an repeatedly says why don’t you think? Why don’t you reflect on God’s creation? Qur’an, if understood in its proper spirit creates intellectual ferment and dynamism rather than stagnation and dogmas. Dogmas were created by theologians and they put basic emphasis on these dogmas as they serve their needs and interests.

 

Also, for many, religion is ritual-oriented rather than value-oriented. By performing certain rituals and maintaining certain appearances they think they are religious. For many others, religion is a source of values rather than rituals. Rituals serve a sense of community and identity and often become mechanical exercises and hardly inspire any inner change.

 

Then how should one look at religion and being religious? There are five most fundamental qualities for being truly religious without which one can claim to be religious but can hardly qualify to be one. These four fundamental qualities are 1) constant quest for truth; 2) to be humble; 3) to be compassionate and 4) to be anti-establishment 5) to be transcendent in vision.

 

We would like to throw some light on these essential qualities to be religious. In every religious tradition God’s name is truth. In Islamic tradition one of Allah’s name is Haq i.e. Truth. Without being truthful and engaged in constant quest for truth one can hardly be religious. All great founders of religion from Buddha to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) spent years of their lives in quest for truth and got inspiration to understand truth. It should be mission of one’s life to search for truth, in all its manifestations. Also, truth does not have one form and one manifestation. It is not stagnant or a dogma but dynamic and intellectually challenging.

 

2) Along with constant quest for truth humility is required. Any sense of truth being any ones monopoly leads to sense of arrogance and destroys the very quality of truth. That is why Qur’an says that All previous prophets came with truth and requires Muslims not to distinguish between one and the other prophets, those who do so are not true believers. All prophets and great religious thinkers were committed to quest for truth. Also, Qur’an maintains that Allah has created diversity, not unifr4moity so that one could understand different forms of truth without leading to arrogance. Anyone engaged in quest for truth has to have a quality of humility. Qur’an strongly denounces mustakbitin (the powerful and arrogant). Most of the Prophets mentioned in the Qur’an were of humble origin.

 

Third important quality for being truly religious is being compassionate i.e. being sensitive to others suffering. Anyone who is not compassionate cannot be a true human being, let alone religious. Allah’s name in Qur’an is Compassionate Merciful (Al-Rahman al-Rahim) and Prophet Muhammad has been described as Mercy of the Worlds (Rahmatan li-Al’alamin). Any Muslim who is not compassionate would never be a true Muslim.

 

Similarly a true religious person has to be anti-establishment as most of the establishments represent vested interest rather than values. Some people try to control these establishments and do anything to retain their control over it. They tend to become authoritarian and try to eliminate their rivals. Also, a truly religious person would always be inspired by future vision rather than what is given. He would be engaged in creating new world as what is given is never perfect. Those who have these qualities would indeed be really truly religious people.

 

Peace stars of 2010 declared


Upon nomination by their colleagues and admirers, the Association for

Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA) has decided to honor Dr. Mohammad
Arif, Jatin Desai, Ashfaq Fateh, Faisal Khan, Dilafrose Qazi and Awais
Sheikh, all peace and harmony activists from India and Pakistan, with
the ACHA Peace Star Award 2010.

They now join the ranks of reputed peace, harmony and human rights
personalities from India, Pakistan, like Karamat Ali, Sayeeda Diep,
Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer, B. M. Kutty, Dr. Abdul Hameed Nayyar, Dr. Ram
Puniyani, Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi, and Dr. Ingrid Shafer from the
U.S.A., who have been honored with this award in previous years.

Also for his services to ACHA, Sharafat Ali of Karachi has been
accepted for the ACHA Award.

The awards are given every two years. The ACHA Peace Star Award is
given to individuals (and organizations), that have performed
meritorious work in promotion of peace and communal harmony, while the
ACHA Award is meant for individuals (and organizations), that have
performed substantial service to ACHA.

These Awards do not have any financial value. They have been set up to
recognize some of the unsung peace and harmony heroes and heroines,
and those who have performed substantial service to ACHA.

ACHA is a 17-year-old, U.S.-based, nonprofit organization, which is
dedicated to promoting peace in South Asia, and harmony among South
Asians everywhere. More information about ACHA can be found at its two
websites: www.asiapeace.org, & www.indiapakistanpeace.org

Brief information about this year’s recipients, in alphabetical order,
is as follows:

Dr. Mohammad Arif hails from Varanasi. Inspired by Gandhian philosophy
he abandoned his academic career to promote communal harmony,
composite culture, secularism and democratic values. In this pursuit
he has built alliances of Dalits, Tribals and minority groups;
organized awareness sessions for the media, and seminars, lectures,
conventions, training workshops for peace and harmony workers, and
street-plays for the general public; developed training modules;
published awareness and training materials; established a library of
resource materials to facilitate research on and documentation of
sectarian clashes; and has founded the Centre for Harmony & Peace.
Some of his initiatives have helped abort severe conflicts in such
communally sensitive areas as Varanasi and have aided capacity
building in other areas.

Jatin Desai of Mumbai has been a devoted community activist ever since
his college days. He has persisted in his efforts in spite of
trumped-up charges of attempted murder and armed robbery brought
against him by his opponents. He has organized Tribals in Maharashtra
to help them fight for their land, forest and water rights; Dalits for
their right to draw water from the community well; his fellow
journalists to struggle for better wages as well as resistance against
curbs on their freedom of expression, threatened by certain fascist
organizations. He worked for restoration of peace during the 1992-93
Mumbai communal riots and bomb-blasts, and helped mobilize secular
forces during the Gujarat genocide of 2002. For the last 10 years he
has been active in the Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace &
Democracy (PIPFPD), and has visited Pakistan many times, in this
regard. To help promote people-to-people contacts and enduring
friendship between India and Pakistan, he has organized many meetings
in Mumbai and Delhi. Also in 2007, he organized a bicycle march from
Mumbai to Pakistan, and helped organize an India-Pakistan conference
“A Road Map toward Peace” in Delhi, earlier this year. Besides, he has
been working with other peace activists on developing a mechanism
through which fishermen, arrested by the two governments, upon
accidentally drifting across the maritime boundary between India and
Pakistan, do not have to languish in foreign jails, even after they
have completed their terms. Finally he has been active in the
antinuclear movement; is associated with the Gandhian organization,
Mumbai Sarvodaya Mandal; and at least once a week is interviewed on
various TV channels on issues like Indo-Pak relations, human rights,
freedom of expression. He has been honored with Ram Bapat award for
promoting peace and social justice through his writings.

Since 1992, Ashfaq Fateh of Toba Tek Singh has been engaged in efforts
to bring together Muslims and Christians of his area to work on such
issues as the rights of minorities in Pakistan,  restoration of the
joint electorate system, abolition of the religion column on the
national identity card, and amendment of the discriminatory blasphemy
laws in Pakistan Penal Code. In his capacity as chairperson for the
Harmony Foundation he has inspired programs in government schools to
promote peace, to discourage gender discrimination, and to do away
with hatred on the basis of religion. As principal of a high school,
for the last several years he has organized activities for students
from his and other area schools, to create awareness of issues related
to human rights, conflict resolution, peace, and communal harmony.
Starting in 2005, for five years, he served as coordinator for the
programs of the International Young Catholic Student designed to
promote peace and harmony. To promote peace between the two neighbors,
he participated in a peace mission to India in August 1998, just after
both countries had conducted nuclear tests. Since then he has made
several peace visits to India and has welcomed Indian peace activists
in Pakistan. He has worked on petitions to ease travel between the two
nations. Earlier this year, on June 25, under the auspices of Aman Ki
Asha, a joint venture of The Times of India and Jang Group of
Publication, he led a group of young students to the Indo-Pak Border
at Wagah, where they exchanged peace messages on kerchiefs with their
Indian counterparts, to mark the passing of the 2010 Queen’s
Commonwealth Games Baton torch to the other side. He has served as the
national convener of the Bangladesh-Bharat Pakistan Peoples Forum,
national coordinator for Friends of the United Nations, country
representative for Peaceful Schools International, and country head of
Peace Pal International. He has even dedicated his home has Indo-Pak
Peace house. Currently under the auspices of the Ravi Foundation, is
leading effort in his area to organize feeding of over 4,000
flood-affected animals.

A lawyer by professional training, Faisal Khan of New Delhi is a key
member of Asha Parivar and National Alliance of Peoples Movements
(NAPM), and has the responsibility for organizing and coordinating
their programs in the states of Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir,
and those in the north-eastern India. He has organized several peace
marches and has fasted in order to draw people’s attention to the
victims of communal and gender violence, state repression or skewed
development in India. He has led goodwill missions at the recent
Kumbha Mela and Ajmer Sharif Urs, where he and his colleagues
discussed with groups of pilgrims the importance and ways of
maintaining communal harmony. In 2006, he led a peace delegation to
the Kashmir Valley, where he and his colleagues discussed with common
people and political leaders about issues confronting them and the way
to confront them. Also he has actively campaigned for peace between
India and Pakistan and organized peace marches from India to Pakistan.

Even in the face of attempts on her life, bullets of the military as
well as militants, Dilafrose Qazi has persisted in single-handedly
trying to empower women in the conflict-ridden state of Jammu &
Kashmir.  In pursuit of this goal, she has established schools for
girls, an engineering & technology college as well as embroidery
classes for women, camps for medical and psychological treatment of
women battered by daily violence going around them, a dairy farm for
rape victims, and rehabilitation programs for militancy-hit families.
At times, she was ordered to close some of her institutions by
militants and religious zealot, and at one time her refusal to act
upon such diktats led to kidnapping of her father, brothers, and
husband. Concerned about the future of young people growing up in
Kashmir, and in migrant camps in and outside the state, she has
endeavored for Hindu-Muslim amity. She could have lived a comfortable
life elsewhere, but she continues to live in Srinagar.

Awais Sheikh is President of Pakistan-India Peace Initiatives. Just
after the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, he organized a peace
demonstration at Lahore Press Club, and helped organize as well as
participated in a peace march at Amritsar. He has authored Samjhota
Express, a book about peace and friendship between India, which has
been translated in Hindi and Punjabi. As a Punjab High Court Advocate,
he is representing Sarabjit Singh, an Indian convicted of spying,
currently lodged in Lahore Central Jail. For his services he was
designated Ambassador for Peace in 2007. Also he is the only Pakistani
who has twice been honored by the Bharatiya Dalit Sahitya Academy with
the Dr. Ambedkar International Award.

 

2010, International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures

UN resolution 62/90 calls for the Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace.

 
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