South Asia peace declaration in California
By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: Four groups, two each from Pakistan and India, have signed a declaration calling for peace between the two neighbour states.
The California Declaration for Peace in South Asia was signed by the Pakistan-based National Workers’ Party of Abid Hassan Minto, the Pakistani-American Democractic Forum and two Indian-American organisations, one of them, Act Now for Harmony and Democracy, being based in India.
The declaration was signed during the recent visit to the San Francisco Bay area by Lahore-based lawyer Minto and New Delhi-based activist Harsh Mandar of Act Now. The text calls for efforts to “broaden, deepen and strengthen” the peace process between India and Pakistan. It says groups in India and Pakistan that have been working for better relations between the two countries want to “help create a mindset for peace based on achievable milestones such as an end to the arms race, protection for minorities, and resolution of outstanding conflicts by peaceful means.”
The declaration states that its main purpose is to deepen people-to-people contact, widen and strengthen the peace process be engaging new groups as well as those that have been working for peace in South Asia for the last 55 years, and provide additional moral, intellectual, social and cultural resources to help build lasting peace.
The declaration states, “We believe that the final settlement between India and Pakistan should be based on the five principles of peaceful coexistence, namely, sovereign equality, non-aggression, non-interference, reciprocal and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. Any creative, out-of-the-box peaceful, just and lasting solution of the Jammu and Kashmir issue must incorporate five key factors: genuine interests of all parties; rights of religious and ethnic minorities; equitable distribution of resources, most importantly, water; overall stability, and regional cooperation.