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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 32 New Delhi August 1, 2015

Stop Ceasefire Violations, restore peace in Border Areas - Statement by PIPFPD’s Pak, India Chapters

Friday 31 July 2015

The following is a Joint Statement issued by the Pakistan and India Chapters of the Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Pece and Democracy on July 23, 2015

The PIPFPD urges India and Pakistan to immediately stop ceasefire violations and restore peace in the border areas.

 We, members of the Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy, strongly condemn the ceasefire violations and firings taking place on the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB) or Working Boundary (WB) along the bordering regions of India and Pakistan. Even though this issue was highlighted in the meeting of the Heads of States in Ufa, Russia on the July 10, 2015, there continues to a be a consistent lack of political will from both sides in genuinely addressing the issue.

 In the last two years, there have been nearly 800-recorded incidents of ceasefire violations in the border areas between India and Pakistan. In the month of July 2015 alone, there were 11 incidences. The recent firing last week left 16 injured and one dead on the Indian side in Rajouri and Poonch sectors and five injured and four dead in the Sialkot Chaprar and Rawala-kot’s Neza Pir sector in Pakistan.1

 The ceasefire violations have adversely impacted the lives of people living in border areas. Their access to education, health services, trans-portation, emergency and other basic services is consistently unavailable or disrupted. The agriculture- based economy has suffered severely, impacting people’s livelihoods. Security fencing laid by the security agencies in the middle of cultivable land has impacted crops and led to large parts of land lying unused. Local and migrant workers are unable to work in the fields due to fear of firing and shelling, leading to large-scale migration and displacement.

 The schools are regularly suspended and turned into relief camps until peace is restored. These camps are in dismal condition; food, water and hygiene facilities are inadequate, forcing people to return to their homes before they are declared safe. While some areas see major delay in relief, compensation and rehabilitation policy for the affected people, no such measures even exist in other villages.

 The vulnerability of these border areas is used to gain create political mileage. The armed forces and the media of both countries indulge in irresponsible blame-games and trading of allegations, which ultimately only harm citizens and lead to escalation of conflict. The people living in border areas are in a position of disadvantage not because they live in border areas, but because border areas have become a site for acting out political conflict and jingoistic nationalism. Border areas have been made consciously uninhabitable in a bid of one-upmanship between India and Pakistan, causing irrevocable harm to citizens on both sides of the border.

 The PIPFPD strongly recommends the following for attaining long term/ permanent solutions to this issue:

1. Immediate restoration of “flag meetings” and contacts between the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) of India and Pakistan.

2. Immediate meeting of NSAs of both the countries as decided in Ufa and resumption of a structured dialogue between India and Pakistan

3. Any talks between the two governments must involve the participation of the border communities who are directly affected by the conflict and have a definite role to play in finding a meaningful solution

4. The governments and media houses of both sides must realise that sensationalising the insensitive political statements and instigating barbs will only lead to escalations that costs more to the civilians and security personnel and will contribute nothing to building peace between the two countries.

5. Both governments must seek and employ third party impartial and independent watchdog mechanisms involving journalists, retired judges, prominent civil society members and parliamentarians in the IB and LoC to find the factual truth behind these firings.

6. There should be deeper discussions and deliberations on the ceasefire agreement of 2003 and its relevance in the current day’s context within civil and political circles.

 We believe that the restoration of dialogue and peace talks at the highest level can bring back normalcy to the lives of thousands of suffering people living in border areas. A long-term solution depends on a stronger political will within civil and political circles of both the countries.

I.A. Rehman            Khwaja Wasim

Chairperson             General Secretary

PIPFPD (Pakistan Chapter)

Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal Jatin Desai and Asha Hans General Secretary

PIPFPD (India Chapter)

[1] Both civilian and army casualties, according to media reports from India and Pakistan

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