– “Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding” – Albert Einstein.
Youth make- up one fifth of the South- Asian demography. Most often we see youth as victims or perpetrators of violence. History is witness to the fact that youth as members of an ever changing, dynamic and energetic group in societies play a crucial role in transforming conflict ridden societies into democratic and peaceful societies. This is a critical mass which needs to be involved when it comes to transformation of violent relationships, structures, attitudes and behaviors towards peace building.
Coming to the Indo – Pak relations in South Asia, probably nowhere in the world are people of two countries as emotionally entwined as are the people of India and Pakistan and yet there is an enmity thrust upon them. Our post-partition turbulent history has been marked with four wars and loss of innumerable innocent lives. Kashmir continues to be a sore point in our relations, threatening to take the two countries on a course of self-destruction. Fundamentalist groups within the religious and political space of South Asia continue to ensure that the fires of animosity are kept alive and take a heavy toll on both sides.
Yet, our shared heritages, cultures including language, dance, songs, music, cuisine and living styles give us hope and inspiration that with the effort of people specially the youth we will transcend the forced geographical boundaries as well as negative historical circumstances.
Today more than ever the problem and challenges faced by people and especially youth are common – poverty, unemployment, the onslaught of globalization and economic liberalization endangering the livelihoods of millions and privatization of sectors like health and education making these services inaccessible for majority of masses of two countries and thus needs to be challenged collectively.
We strongly believe that if the peace and friendship has to be established between the two countries the initiative will have to be taken by people themselves and particularly by youth. A fertile ground by gradual removal of trade barriers, increased interaction and exchange and moments of people from both the countries has to be created both sides to change the mind set of people and the Governments.
Moreover, women on both sides of the border have waged similar struggles against social, religious, state-led, economic and militaristic patriarchies. Feminist activists in India and
Pakistan have, for decades, campaigned against not just what are crudely clubbed as ‘women’s issues’, but also opposed the neo-liberal model of economic development and political authoritarianism, religious fundamentalists and their adverse impact on the lives of women, especially the poorest.
As a builder of peace, the eagerness and vigor of youth in India and Pakistan will create a sustainable movement of young people for peace and democracy by themselves of themselves and for everyone. For years such youth have been involved in such peace initiative for both the country. The need however is that these efforts are continuous and sustained.
Keeping this in mind, yet another effort in the form of “Youth festival for Peace “ is being made by youth and people’s organizations in India and Pakistan towards peace with following objectives
1. The movement of people across the borders should be made easier. Due regard should be given to the wishes and aspirations of the people by the two governments, and they should be allowed to freely and easily meet and interact with each other. In fact, the visa-passport regime should be done away with.
2. India and Pakistan must establish unconditional friendship forthwith respecting the wishes of common people of both countries and then try to resolve the issues. A solution to all contentious issues including Kashmir between India and Pakistan should be found peacefully through mutual discussions around the table.
3. India and Pakistan should dismantle their atomic-nuclear establishments at the earliest. Both countries should destroy landmines laid in the border areas and send their forces back to the barracks. We want that both countries should stop wasting valuable resources in the name of defense budget, and plan for these resources to be used for the eradication of poverty in the sub-continent.
4. The two countries must end proxy and/or low intensity wars against each other forthwith and restrain their intelligence agencies from fomenting trouble across the border.
This time the Youth festival will take place from 25th, 26th and 27th February 2011 in Lahore, Pakistan where Youth from India and Pakistan will come together to discuss following issues Politics of Globalization and people’s movements
· Youth for peace and transformation
· Religious fundamentalism
·Gender, youth and peace
· Cultural movements for change and peace
Coordinator: Mukta Srivastava ((India) ), Saida Diep (Pakistan)
Organizing Committee: Kamla Bhasin, Mazher Hussain, Jatin Desai, Anil Chaudhary, Feroze Mithiborewala, Kishor Jagtap, Kavita Srivastava, Monica Wahi, Kavita Srivastava, Gurudial Singh Sheetal, Ramneek Mohan, Faisal Khan, Rajeshwar Ojha, Mukta Srivastava, Sandeep Pandey