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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 14 New Delhi March 23, 2019

Peace Conference in Pakistan calls for De-escalation and Nuclear CBMs

Saturday 23 March 2019

The following is a press release issued on March 9, 2019 by Imtiaz Alam, Secretary-General, South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA), about a peace conference held in Lahore. 

Peace activists from across civil society at a peace conference in Lahore, convened by the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA), Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) and Progressive Writers Association, called for strategic restraint, obser-vance of ceasefire across the LoC/international borders, an end to atrocities against Kashmiris, nuclear CBMs, and resumption of an inter-ruptible and comprehensive dialogue between India and Pakistan.

While appreciating the efforts of the international community and saner elements of the subcontinent for de-escalation of conflict between the two neighbours, they warned against the provocateurs and warmongers who could push the subcontinent into a dangerous conflict that could spiral into a nuclear catastrophe. They called upon the major political forces and powers that be to not let the subcontinent become a hostage to the whims of terrorists and jingoism of the hyper-nationalists who flourish on hate and mayhem.

Reiterating their concerns about militarisation of the region, nuclear proliferation and arms race, the peace activists emphasised the urgency to put in place a nuclear-stabilisation regime, divert resources from arms race to the benfit of hundreds of million people suffering from poverty and impoverishment. Rejecting war as politics by other means to resolve disputes, the peace conference appealed to all who matter to engage in a comprehensive dialogue and resolve all differences through peaceful means.

Welcoming the measures towards normali-sation, such as talks on the Kartarpur corridor, they warned against the elements who indulge in brinkmanship and adventurism. The conference rejected all notions of surgical strikes across borders, mini-wars, proxy wars and terrorism to attain any objective. Rejecting terrorism and proxy wars as an instrument of strategy, the conference called upon Pakistan and India to shun such practices that can destabilised the whole region. The participants welcomed the ongoing negotiations between the Taliban and the US and other initiatives and emphasised that the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and an end to war should ensure reconciliation and peaceful democratic transition in Afghanistan on a permament basis. The international and regional forces are required to jointly help reconstruction, reconciliation of peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan and Iran should also take measures against cross-border terrorism.

The peace activists called upon the two governments to take confidence building measures, activate the diplomatic channels and allow people-to-people contacts. They extended their felicitations to the peace activists of Pakistan and India who kept the banner of peace flying, despite the high fever of war hysteria.

The Secretary-General of SAFMA presided over the conference. Senator Pervaiz Rashid (PML-N), Farhatullah Babar (PPP), Farooq Tariq (AWP), Mohammed Tehsheen (PIPFPD), Hussain Naqi, senior journalist, Dr Alim Khan (PWA), addressed the conference. The resolution was adopted by all the participants.

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