India-Pakistan Peace Train
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali


The United Religions Initiative (URI) is sponsoring a peace train from India to Pakistan on January 12 and a peace assembly in Multan from January 13 to 16 to promote people-to-people contact between the two countries.

The San Francisco-based URI with branches in 50 countries, aims at promoting global peace and justice through interfaith cooperation.

Elaborating on the theme of the URI project, Danesh Chandra, co-founder of the Foundation for Human and Economic Development (FHED), said that the peace train alludes to the trains which transported thousands and thousands of people who were uprooted by the partition and many of the partition survivors still carry those bitter memories. The objective of the peace train is to help in healing those wounds, he added.
According to the co-founder of the India-Pakistan Peace Coalition, Ras Siddiqui, the URI project will cost $ 40,000 dollars of which $10,000 has already been raised while South Asian peace groups here hav e launched an intensive fund-raising campaign to raise the rest $ 30,000.

The URI’s peace train and the assembly will include 50 delegates from Pakistan, 80 from India and 10 from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Korea, Philippines, Indonesia and the US.
Ras Siddiqui said that people-to-people contact is vital to help bring durable peace in South Asia and such projects would surely strengthen recent peace initiatives between India and Pakistan. “The peace train would foster alliances for peace building among people in religious traditions and also encourage people and especially youth to visit each other in these countries,” he stated.

Ras Siddiqui revealed that the URI peace train and peace assembly project is supported among others by Dr. Javed Iqbal, retired Chief Justice of Pakistan and founding member of the URI in Pakistan, Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad, Imam of the Badshahi Mosque Lahore and Chairman of the Majlas-e-Ulama Pakistan, and Father James Channan, ordained Pakistani Catholic Priest, Director of the Dominican Order of Pakistan and Director of the Pastoral Institute at Multan. The project is also supported by Dr. Mohinder Singh, Director, National Institute of Punjab Studies, New Delhi, India, and Member of the URI Global Council for the Asia region.
The India-Pakistan Peace Coalition is a leading US peace group aimed at promoting peace and understanding in South Asia through people-to-people contact. In August last, the Coalition hosted a roundtable with a joint India-Pakistan newsmen delegation.

PETITION: Meanwhile, the Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA), an Oregon-based group, has launched a petition signature campaign urging President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan and Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh “to build a suitable monument at the Wagah-Attari Border as a memorial to the victims of the Partition violence.” The petition points out that “millions of people suffered loss of honour, life, family , homes, livelihood, and sense of well being, on both sides of the India-Pakistan border, in the tragic aftermath of the Partition, in 1947.

“Many survivors still carry the scars of their suffering. Also, for more than a half-century, the wounds of Partition have embittered relationship between the people of India and Pakistan.
”We hope this memorial will also serve as a symbol of ending of the armed conflicts and hostilities of the past, and of beginning of a new era of cooperation, peace, and friendship between the great people of the two countries,” the peition concluded.
This petition can be signed at: http://www.petitiononline.com/ippeace/petition.html



-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 pakistanlink.com . All Rights Reserved.