India/Pakistan: Joint Action for Peace by Indians and Pakistanis

"Develop in Peace" campaign
Indians and Pakistanis orchestrated joint actions across a dozen cities to boost the momentum for peace.
Pakistan and India celebrated their 57th independence days on 14th and 15th August.
In a refreshingly unprecedented move, hundreds of citizens synchronized their local events coast to coast in the US, India and Pakistan, with a view to harness the rising tide of public opinion yearning for lasting peace and cooperation in the region. Especially in the context of renewed US interest in the region as well as growing contributions of the South Asian Diaspora to the US society, economy and polity over the last few years, bringing Americans and South Asians on a platform dedicated to peace is indeed a timely move.

These citizens are from all walks of life - physicians, students, academicians, social workers, shopkeepers and journalists, men and women, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and others who celebrate their unity in diversity. It is their resolve to strive for freedom from divisive forces that binds them all.

The groups - from Houston TX, Madison WI, San Francisco Bay area, CA, Boston MA, Charlotte NC, Ann Arbor MI; Minneapolis MN, Corning NY in the USA; Ahmedabad, Pune, Mumbai, Calcutta in India; and Karachi, Faisalabad in Pakistan - joined this campaign by organizing their own activities and sharing the spirit of solidarity with each other between 14th and 17th August. The events reflected the diversity of participants- some will include poetry, music and food, others included symbolic events like peace vigils, human chains, joint singing of national anthems and flag hoisting, and joint meetings, finally culminating into a conference call connecting all the participating cities to build on these successes.

A key feature of these joint events was the participation of various chapters in the two countries of the Pakistan-India Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIFPD), celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.

All these common people turned campaigners are convinced that there is no option but to pool resources effectively and efficiently for lasting peace NOW. They point out that South Asia is the home to more than a fifth of the world's population, and contemporary accomplishments of South Asians at home and abroad are acknowledged worldwide. Nevertheless, greatness will continue to elude South Asian countries until peace takes lasting roots: The nuclear and conventional war machine devours billions of dollars desperately needed for education, health & other basic needs of its citizens. 45% of South Asians live below the international poverty line of $1/day. Half of the world's malnourished children under the age of five, one-third of all maternity deaths and the largest number of adult illiterates are in South Asia. The male-female ratio and other indicators suggest women's socioeconomic status still needs serious attention. The communal strife in all the South Asian countries rock their societies and economies.

Therefore, those celebrating the independence days jointly will reaffirm our unity in:

a) seeking freedom from all divisive forces and rejecting hatred, violence and distrust in the name of religion, caste, regional, national or any other identities;

b) saying No to arms race globally, regionally & internationally;

c) demanding development, not destruction, with the poorest of the poor in sight;

d) asking governments and politicians to build bridges, not bombs; and provide security through food, not propaganda.

The groups who are joining this "Develop in Peace" campaign will undertake further such activities in the coming months to accelerate the momentum to the peace process in the context of January 2004 Islamabad Indo-Pak summit, SAARC meeting and beyond, as well as to support sustainable and just development across South Asia. For more information about how you can join the campaign, please e-mail:

Develop in Peace is one of the few 501 © 3 organizations specifically mandated to work at the interface of peace and development in South Asia.