India, personally…

Fishing in Troubled Waters, launched in Delhi, Aug 13, 2013

Fishing in Troubled Waters, launched in Delhi, Aug 13, 2013

Update: See ‘A half-full glass‘ on the Singh-Sharif meeting at UNGA (and the ‘dehati aurat’ brouhaha), published in the Aman ki Asha page in The News on Oct 2, and in my column at TOI blogs.

This is a long-pending post, compiling articles, video and photo links (below) following my recent, brief trip to India at a time when tensions along the Line of Control (LoC) were running high. The Programme for Social Action (PSA) and the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) had invited me to a seminar on Aug 13, where they launched two publications. (I took the direct Karachi-Delhi PIA flight both ways, which has since then been discontinued — apparently not enough traffic because it’s so difficult to get visas; credit where credit is due – PIA is the only Southasian airline to fly to all the regional capitals and more).

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Dr Khalil Chishty is back home – three cheers for candle-light peaceniks

Ajmer: Dr Chishty talks with his family after his release from jail in Ajmer on May 9, 2012. PTI Photo

A post by my Delhi-based journalist friend Shivam Vij in Kafila- but he modestly leaves out his own role in this – it was his idea to get President Zardari briefed about the Dr Chishty case before he left for Ajmer. Thanks to Farahnaz Ispahani for getting the information to President Zardari, following up via Bilawal Bhutto who accompanied the President, and ensured that the matter came up when they met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. It was after this meeting and their discussion of the case that things began moving forward. Perhaps that was what gave the Honourable Judges of the Supreme Court of India the confidence to make this unprecedented judgement – though not without cautioning that it should not be seen as a precedent! Shivam’s Kafila piece: Dr Khalil Chishty is back home – three cheers for candle-light peaceniks.

Mumbai journalists visit Pakistan: a sign of hope; a warm welcome but no cellphone roaming

Mumbai for Peace: "SAY NO TO TERROR AND WAR! SAY NO TO VIOLENCE!"

Below, my comment in The News about the forthcoming visit of Indian journalists to Pakistan (The News also carried this report on their visit based on their press statement). As I wrote earlier, just one of these journalists has ever visited Pakistan before. A CORRECTION to my comment below: the Mumbaikars who formed the human chain on Dec 12, 2008 numbered not in the ‘hundreds’  but thousands. “Nearly 60,000 people including several celebrities… formed a 50 km long ‘human chain for peace’,” according to this report in The Indian Express (I found it after filing my story). One of the people behind this event, organised by ‘Mumbai for Peace’, was the journalist Jatin Desai, spokesman for the current delegation to Pakistan.

Situationer: Mumbai journalists’ visit: yet another sign of hope

 By Beena Sarwar

 The journalists from Mumbai landing in Karachi on Monday will arrive to a warm welcome – and no cell phone roaming. India and Pakistan both deny this facility that millions today take for granted, to each other, as foreign correspondents, businesspeople and others who travel in the region know all too well. Continue reading

Rajasthan Home Secretary, PUCL, join hands for Dr Chishty

PUCL General Secretary Kavita Srivastava: fighting for a cause

Note: Report compiled from information sent by Kavita Srivastava, General Secretary PUCL, to Dr Chishty’s family and those engaged in working for his release.

With the sympathetic involvement of the Government of Rajasthan and the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), hope rises for a Pakistani prisoner, retired virologist Dr Khaleel Chishty, 78, who has been under trial for nearly 19 years before an Ajmer sessions court finally pronounced sentence in January this year, convicting him to life imprisonment (14 years). Continue reading

Aman ki Asha and a daughter’s appeal

Ajmer, Jan 2011: Unable to walk, Dr Chishty is carried to the courtroom. Photo: TOI

In humanity’s name: Aman ki Asha has been campaigning for clemency towards cross-border prisoners – young boys who stray across by mistake or in search of ‘Bollywood’, fishermen who cross the maritime border, families who have committed minor transgressions, long-term prisoners incarcerated for years on either side, until their story is taken up by human rights activists and media…. See articles compiled at the Aman ki Asha website at the link ‘In humanity’s name‘. Four articles, including the one below, published today, available at this link.

A campaign is building up in India for the release of an elderly retired Pakistani professor detained for over 19 years

By Beena Sarwar Continue reading

Dr Chishty: update from Kavita Srivastava, PUCL

Below, a heartening and hopeful account of Dr Chishty’s situation via email from Kavita Srivastava of People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), India, after meeting him at Ajmer prison hospital, addressed to Dr Chishty’s daughters and others involved in trying to provide him relief. The petition seeking pardon for Dr Chishty under Articles 72 and 161 of the Constitution has been sent to the President of India as well as the  Governor of Rajasthan, signed by Mahesh Bhat, Kuldeep Nayyar, Jatin Desai, Kavita Srivastava and Adml. Ramu Ramdas. It is encouraging that the Indian media is taking up the case with greater vigour.  Below, Kavita’s email, reproduced with permission.  Continue reading

Dr Chishty’s imprisonment: his daughter Amna’s update

Received an email this morning from Amna Chishty in Canada, copied to various people working to secure the release of her father, the aged Pakistani professor Dr Khalil Chishty, a prisoner in India for over 19 years, currently in Ajmer Prison hospital (report in The Hindu April 15, editorial in The News on April 13). She expresses her family’s gratitude for the continued efforts to help Dr Chishty and bring his case to the forefront and stresses the following points that need to be highlighted in the media:
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Appeal to Indian President for release of aged Pakistani prisoner

On April 4, 2011 Amna Chishty, daughter of retired Pakistani professor Dr Khaleel Chishty currently a prisoner in Ajmer prison hospital appealed to Aman ki Asha to secure her father’s release, inspired by the Indian Supreme Court’s appeal for the release of Indian prisoner Gopal Dass in Pakistan, whom the Pakistan government subsequently released. Since then, events have moved fast in India, with various high-powered individuals working behind the scenes to help Dr Chishty. Below, an appeal from distinguished Indian citizens to their president.

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Indian Peace Delegation meets Pakistan Prime Minister, policy makers and people in successful visit

PRESS STATEMENT

Indian Peace Delegation meets Pakistan Prime Minister, policy makers and people in successful visit

An Indian Peace Delegation visited Pakistan from March 17-25, 2011. During their stay they visited Karachi, Hyderabad, Islamabad and Lahore. They met Pakistan Prime Minister Mr. Yusuf Reza Gilani, Sindh Chief Minister Mr. Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Senators of various political parties, civil society activists, journalists, members of business community, and students amongst others. Continue reading

Indian peace delegation is back from Pakistan with a message of love & friendship

Their faces smudged with the colours of holi, Indian peace delegation wearing Sindhi ajraks address a gathering in Hyderabad. Photo: Piler, Karachi

PRESS STATEMENT: Indian peace delegation is back from Pakistan with a message of love & friendship

An Indian Peace Delegation visited Pakistan from 17th to 25th March 2011. During their stay they visited Karachi, Hyderabad, Islamabad and Lahore. They met Pakistan Prime Minister Mr. Yusuf Reza Gilani, Sindh Chief Minister Mr. Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Law makers of various political parties, civil society activists, journalists, members of business community,  students amongst others. The 12 member Indian delegation was led by Mr. Kuldip Nayar and included Mr. Mahesh Bhatt, Mr. Bhalchandra Mungekar, Mr. Shahid Siddiqui, Mr. Jatin Desai, Dr. Mazher Hussain, Ms. Kamla Bhasin, Mr. Ramesh Yadav, Mr.Sanjay Nahar, Mr. Haris Kidwai, Mr. Laxmi Prasad. Mr. Krishna Rao. Continue reading

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