OPINION

Memorial at Wagah to the Victims of the 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan

Dr ISHTIAQ AHMED, Associate Professors, Dept of Political Science Stockholm University makes a plea for a memorial for all the victims of the 1947 partition

The Partition of British India in 1947, which created the two independent states of Pakistan and India, was followed by one of the cruelest and bloodiest migrations and religious and ethnic cleansings in history and resulted in the forced transfer of an estimated 14 to 18 million people between the two countries. The ensuing religious animosity and communal strife resulted in the deaths of some two million Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs and abduction, rape and killing of countless women and children. It was indeed one of the most inhuman manifestations of religious and communal intolerance with few parallels in history.

Those who survived were brutalized and traumatized and still carry the scars of their suffering which, in so many ways, have continued to dictate the relations between the two countries for more than half a century. The pain and suffering of the time have been the subject of many a poignant work of prose and poetry in South Asian literature and more recently of some touching and sensitive films.

Core Members of Pakistanis for Peace and Alternative Development (PPAD) sincerely feel that ways ought to be found to ensure that the suffering and humiliation of that period are neither forgotten nor allowed to occur ever again. Rather than the Partition leaving a legacy of perpetual animosity and conflict between Pakistan and India and between Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and others, it ought to be assigned a wholly different meaning and significance. It should instead represent the pain and agony of common humanity.

We propose therefore that, as a permanent symbol of the common suffering, an appropriate Memorial is built along the road in the no man's land between Pakistan and India at Wagah, with suitable provision for those crossing the two countries to make a brief stop, and in their own way, honour the dead and remember the surviving victims of the Partition.

We also suggest that a similar memorial is built at a suitable location along the border between Bangladesh and India.

It is our sincere wish and hope that these Memorials will help begin a new chapter in the history of the Sub-continent - one based on a better understanding of the past and on mutual trust and respect in the future.

We urge all peace-loving people of the Subcontinent and of the world to join us in persuading the governments of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh to acknowledge the collective responsibility of their recent history and facilitate the erection of these Memorials to mark the human tragedy of their peoples.

Please Send Your Messages as Follows:

DR ISHTIAQ AHMED<Ishtiaq.Ahmed@statsvet.su.se) Coordinator, PPAD Ishtiaq Ahmed
Associate Professor
Department of Political Science Stockholm University
S - 106 91 Stockholm,
SWEDEN.

Pakistanis for Peace and Alternative Development

PPAD will consist of a network of Pakistanis living abroad and at home, connected primarily through electronic mail. It will welcome participation by those who subscribe to humanist ideals whether inspired by secular or religious convictions. From time to time, the group will coordinate its activities with its Indian counterparts who share similar aims and objectives on issues of common interest. It will also seek participation in international initiatives related to peace and development.

PPAD will try to facilitate serious debate, inviting experts to prepare introductory and background material on different subjects. The idea is that we pursue an in-depth analytical approach rather than indulge in rhetoric and angry polemics.

Description and Structure

1) The name of the new network will be PAKISTANIS FOR PEACE AND ALTERNATIVE DEVELOPMENT (PPAD).

2) The term 'Pakistani' will refer to all those who became Pakistani nationals after the partition of India; immigrated to Pakistan from India or some other country and acquired Pakistani citizenship; were born on its soil after independence; are expatriates; have emigrated from Pakistan and become citizens of some other state, but continue to identify with Pakistan in an existentialist sense; and, those whose parents (both or one) are of Pakistani origin.

3) An organizational Core Group consisting of volunteers will provide lead to the activities of PPAD. New members can be included and those who may want to withdraw are welcome to do so. The list has grown since the first announcement. We are not, at the moment, looking for more volunteers. I have tried to set up a Core Group which reflects a broad spectrum of perspectives and approaches on common goals and shared societal ideals. Diversity can be both an asset and a liability. The art is, of course, to discuss and learn with an open mind and a feeling heart.

4) All those who are already included in the network which came into being during the campaign to collect support for the statement on the nuclear tests will continue to receive information and can fully participate in all the activities which the Core Group may offer. Even direct initiative from any member of the original network will be given equal attention by the Core Group.

5) There will be no office-holders in our new network.

6) All final decisions on various initiatives will be taken through open discussion and consultation with all members.

7) I (Ishtiaq Ahmed) shall continue to act as the Coordinator as long as I enjoy your trust.

Aims and Objectives:

1. To formulate enlightened positions on issues of human rights, tolerance, social justice, and balanced economic and human development.

2. To uphold the equality of all human beings irrespective of their class, caste, creed, ethnic affiliation or gender.

3. To achieve the abolition of all forms of exploitation of one person by another.

4. To combat religious and sectarian intolerance and violence.

5. To achieve the ideal of universal literacy, and abolition of child labour, bonded labour and economic exploitation of women and depressed and marginalized groups.

6. To take an unequivocal stand against militarization in general and nuclearization in particular.

7. To promote peace between Pakistan and India, and encourage the two countries to solve their differences and disputes though discussion and mutual accommodation.

8. To concentrate efforts on promoting alternative strategies of development and change based on principles of social justice, participatory democracy and environmental protection.

9. To further such civil society, which can resist pressure both of tyrannical government and transnational companies which exploit the resources of Pakistan.

10. To participate in international initiatives related to peace and alternative development.

The organizational Core Group includes the following (in alphabetical order):
1. Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed (Associate Professor)
(Political Science, Sweden)
Coordinator, PPAD
2. Zubair Faisal Abbasi, Journalist, Pakistan.
3. Prof. Susan Mussarat Akram (law, USA)
4. Dr. Ghazala Anwar (Islamic theology, New Zealand)
5. Prof. Hassan Gardezi (sociology, Canada)
7. Faisal A Gilani (company executive, Pakistan)
8. Dr. Bilal Hashmi (sociology, USA)
9. Prof. Fawzia Afzal-Khan (English Literature, USA)
10. Ayyub Malik (architect, UK)
11. Prof. Amin Mughal (literature, literature critic, UK)
12. Dr Babar Mumtaz (reader, UK)
13. Dr. Saghir A Shaikh (USA)
14. Dr. Ahmed Shibli (science and technology, UK)
15. Ijaz Syed (researcher, USA)
16. Dr. Mohammad Tanveer, journalist, Pakistan)
17. Nadeem Omar Tarar lecturer (cultural anthropology, Pakistan)
18. Ayesha Y. Vawda (educationist, USA)

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