Peace activists belonging to the various non-governmental organizations have welcomed the joint statement of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and his Pakistan counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani signed at the Sharm-e-Sheih, Egypt on the sidelines of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit. The joint statement has put theMumbai attack and terrorism up front unlike the impression sought to be created by hawkish elements in both the countries. The peace activists feel that the statement by the Pakistani Prime Minister committing “that whosoever was behind the Mumbai attack will be brought to justice” is a positive development. They urged Pakistan to follow it up with appropriate and immediate action. India and Pakistan both need to work together on the issue of militancy as quickly as possible as both are victims of terrorism – mostly from the same elements.
“That the statement de-links terrorism from dialogue is a positive sign, as the terrorists have the capacity to hijack and derail the peace process through their nefarious activities. The only way to isolate and defeat the terrorists is by both the countries engaging in constant dialogue and cooperation to root out this menace. A joint mechanism against terrorism is necessary,” said a statement signed by the peace activists.
The activists welcomed the resumption of regular dialogue at the foreign secretary level and hoped that all steps would be taken and an atmosphere is created that is conducive for an immediate resumption of the composite dialogue process. Prior to Mumbai terrorist attack, four rounds of composite dialogue were held on the identified eight issues and significant progress was made on all fronts and major breakthroughs were in sight when the Mumbai terror attack derailed the process. In hindsight it appears that Mumbai terrorist attack was perhaps enacted to scuttle such breakthroughs that appeared imminent.
“The resumption of composite dialogue is the only roadmap towards permanent peace in the sub-continent. If the joint statement is implemented in letter and spirit, the resumption of composite dialogue can take place as early as September when the leadership of both the countries meet on the sidelines of UN General Assembly,” the peace activists hoped.
The signatories to the peace activists’ statement included Admiral (Retd.) L Ramdas, Kamla Bhasin of SANGAT, Delhi, Mahesh Bhatt of Mumbai, Prof. Kamal Chenoy of JNU, Nandita Das, Jatin Desai and Manisha Gupte of PIPFPD, Mumbai, Mazher Hussain of COVA, Varsha Rajan Berry of Focus, Lalita Ramdas, Ramesh Pimple of Peoples’ Media Initiative, Mumbai, and Sukla Sen of Ekta, Mumbai.