Indo-Pak Communities Celebrate Peace Day
By Zafar Iqbal

Washington, DC: “We believe that when people lead, the political leaders are duty-bound to follow." This was the unanimous message participants of the Peace Day celebration wished to convey to people of the subcontinent. The recent people-to-people interaction has established beyond doubt that common people on both sides of the border are eager to foster cultural, commercial, educational, and familial relationships with each other.
Fifteen organizations of the Pakistani and Indian communities jointly organized a meeting to honor the independence days of both the neighboring South-Asian countries as a Peace Day at the University of Maryland, College Park, MD from 2-5 PM, on Saturday, the August 13, 2005.
Professor A. H. Nayyar, Peace Activist/Professor Emeritus, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad — the main speaker at the function — was happy over recent developments at different levels on both sides of the border; however, he expressed concerns that the peace process had not yet become self-sustaining. Although common men and women on both sides are very enthusiastic about establishing friendly relations with each other, but the misgivings and suspicion of policymakers, politicians, military establishment, and bureaucrats on either side appear to be the reason for keeping the two nations apart. Nayyar also outlined several areas of cooperation that have been established by the peace-promoting NGOs recently in India and Pakistan.
Umesh Agnihotri’s story Lakeer beautifully described the interaction of two families from either side of the border now settled in the US. Zafar Iqbal recited Yusuf Rahat’s poem Shanti that beautifully described the virtues of peaceful coexistence. The program included a short video of Peace March from New Delhi to Multan last spring and poems and songs on friendship and communal harmony.
The program was arranged under the leadership of Dr. Mohan Bhagat, a senior professor at the University of Maryland and actively supported by a number of Indo-Pakistan community workers that include Dr. Pervez Uppal, Dr. Priya Ranjan, Dr. Sirish Agarwal, Dr. Zafar Iqbal, Mr. Shrikumar Poddar, Mr. Kaleem Kawaja, Mr. Rohit Tripathi, Mr. Sandeep Gupta, Ms. Vineeta Gupta, Ms. Nuzaira Azam, Ms. Sultana Kamal and Ms. Lubna Ejaz. It was sponsored by the Association for India's Development (AID), in collaboration with like-minded organizations of Indo-Pak community such as the American Federation of Muslims from India (AFMI), Aligarh Alumni Association (AAA), DC Collective of South-Asians, The Organization of Universal Communal Harmony (TOUCH), Association of Indian Muslims in America (AIM), Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA), Non-Resident Indians for Secular and Harmonious India (NRI-SAHI), Pakistan Association of Greater Washington Area, Hyderabad Association Washington Metropolitan Area (HAWMA), Sadbhav Mission, and Young India (YI).
The attendees signed a petition urging both the governments to ease all restrictions on cross-border travel at the earliest possible date.

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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