Awards conferred on Indo-Pak peace activists
Peace activists, poets, writers, journalists and civil society members on Tuesday underlined the need to take measures to ensure lasting peace between India and Pakistan.
One of the methods to achieve this objective was people to people contact, they stressed.
They were speaking at Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA) Peace Star Award distribution ceremony, which was jointly organised by the Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC), Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) and Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi to confer the ACHA Peace Star Award 2013 to Pakistani and Indian peace activists.
The awards were handed over by to Pretam Rohila and Kundan Rohila. BM Kutty of PPC read out the profiles of the award recipients.
The Peace Star Award recipients were Sheema Kermani (Pakistan), Dr Syed Mazher Hussain (India), Lajja Shankar Herdina (India) and Pramod Sharma (India).
Speaking on the occasion, Pretam Rohila of ACHA said his organisation was working towards peace in Asia and particularly South Asia. Rohila said after the Babri Mosque incident, he and his friends decided to establish an organisation with the main objective of bringing about lasting peace in South Asia.
For the awards, he said nominations were invited and the members of the board of directors decided on the names. He said there was no fixed number of recipients and awards were given on merit.
ACHA also organises peace camps both in India and Pakistan. This year a total of seven such camps would be held in both counties.
“We have reached to the conclusion that instead of waiting for the governments to take measures for peace, we should come forward ourselves.”
Karamat Ali of PILE said a war pact should be signed among the eight countries of South Asia. He underlined the need for a proportionate decline in the number of armies and urged that visa snags should be removed.
Speaking on the occasion, noted Urdu poet Fahmida Riaz said all extremism was because of the permanent enmity between India and Pakistan.
Lajja Shankar Herdina said secularism was the only solution for the problems in South Asia. He recalled the speech of the Quaid-e-Azam and said Jinnah wanted to make Pakistan a secular country. Herdina warned that history would not excuse those who betrayed the objectives of the Quaid-e-Azam.
He deplored that a negative impression had been created about the word secularism, and said that such developments were dangerous. He said that neighbnouring India also had certain elements that were working against secularism.
Dr Mazher Hussain paid rich tributes to the late Syed Iqbal Haider and dedicated his award to him. He recalled that after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the peace activists of both India and Pakistan visited the four corners of India.
“Iqbal Haider and I visited Nagpur, which is the headquarters of the RSS. We visited their office and Haider boldly presented his point of view.”
Sheema Kermani, meanwhile, said many women of India and Pakistan remained unsung heroines.
Columnists Zahida Hina and Muqtada Mansoor also spoke on the occasion.
The ACHA awards are given to individuals and organizations that have performed meritorious work in promotion or pursuit of peace and communal harmony, especially in South Asia or among South Asians.
The past recipients of this award included Dr Asghar Ali Engineer, Dr Ram Puniyani, Dr Lenin Raghuvanshi and Shabnam Hashmi in India; Rev. Dr. Bonniface Mendes, Dr Abdul Hameed Nayyar, B M. Kutty, Karamat Ali, Saeeda Diep, Awais Sheikh, and Ashfaq Fateh in Pakistan; and Dr Ingrid Shafer and Oregon Peace Works in USA.