Activists support peace defenders in Pakistan, denounce false allegations
LONDON, Oct. 30: Some two dozen activists from Pakistan working in the fields of media, peace, culture, development and politics, USA, Canada and U.K. met in central London to discuss India-Pakistan relations and reaffirm the need for peace between the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours. They reiterated the vision of Pakistan’s founder Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah that relations between the two countries should be like those of Canada and the United States.
Participants condemned the false allegations of “traitor” and “foreign agent” against those who advocate peace. “Such allegations lower our threshold of security given the preponderance of non-state actors, particularly in Pakistan,” they observed, deploring “the lack of rationale behind such accusations and the false mask of anti-nationalism” that they said is used to browbeat them.
The statement urged the media in Pakistan as well as in India to recognize the genuineness of their efforts and to be accurate in covering their words and actions. “Misrepresentation only strengthens the enemies of peace in both countries,” they said.
They condemned those members of the media community “who flout journalistic ethics by sowing the seeds of hatred between neighbouring countries and then further this false narrative” by calling for young people to “expose” those they feel are “anti-national”.
They noted the friendly, even close, relations between diaspora Indians and Pakistanis, a reality that is different to the perception that is sent to the home country, furthering the false narrative that Indians and Pakistanis cannot be friends.
The meeting pledged to support and initiate cultural activities to highlight peace-building efforts, particularly in the coming year that marks the 70-anniversary of the 1947 Partition and Independence of Pakistan and India.
Several of the participants have long been involved in the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD), including development activist Karamat Ali, journalist and editor Aman ki Asha Beena Sarwar, columnist and member of Women’s Initiative for Peace in South Asia Marvi Sirmed, and journalist Mazhar Arif, Director of Alternative Media. Also present were Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani, Dr. Taimur Rahman, general secretary Mazdoor Kissan Party and spokesperson for the music band Laal, analyst Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, Aman ki Asha volunteer Prof. Saeed Ahmad Rid, development activist Anushae Alam, businessman Nazim Haji, and journalists Rashed Rahman, Mehmal Sarfaraz and Murtaza Solangi, and as well as the young Islamabad-based reporter Umer Ali who is in London to receive two prestigious journalism awards, the Kurt Memorial Award in International Journalism and Frontline Club’s Local Reporter Award.
London-based activists included Fatima Mullick, Yasmin Whittaker-Khan, Tazeen Naqvi, Mushtaq Lashari who is also involved with Third World Solidarity, and journalists Raza Syed, Sajid Iqbal, Umber Khairi, Ziad Zafar, Umair Javed and Qurratulain (Annie) Zaman. Physician Dr Mohammad Taqi from Florida, Canada-based journalists Tahir Aslam Gora, CEO of Tag TV, Haleema Sadia, anchor and program manager Tag TV, and Ghazala Habib, Austin, TX-based chairperson, Friends of Kashmir.