The appeal to the leaders of the two countries was made public in a press conference held in Lahore on Sunday. The groups that took part in the event urged the government of Pakistan not to miss the opportunity to work with India in a joint effort against terrorism.
These civil society organisations want both nations to resist the temptation to violate each other’s territorial integrity (pictured Wagah border check point), and have called on their respective governments to give priority to the elimination of poverty; the provision of food, shelter and jobs to all as well as essentials like water, gas, electricity and social services.
The HRCP and the other organisations also voiced their concern over the living conditions of the civilian population in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the Swat Valley district.
They lament the fact that armed groups can operate in the area with impunity and without a cohesive security policy by the government.
For the signatories of the Islamabad appeal Pakistani authorities must give up the illusion that intransigence and non-co-operation with India will help in nation-building, re-open the Kashmir question and replenish public coffers.
Instead they urge them to draw the right lessons from the country’s recent history, noting the cost the population had to pay for the third Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and the Kargil conflict of 1999, the latest in a long series of clashes between the two neighbours.
The HRCP and the civil society groups also criticised the irresponsible behaviour of the mass media in both countries.
In their view rising tensions between Pakistan and India is partly the media’s fault at a time when government and peoples ought to acknowledge the importance of working together to guarantee peace and defeat terrorism.