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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pashtuns Stand for Peace

Shaheen Buneri

The Pashtun dominated region of Pakistan and Afghanistan is once again in the grip of unprecedented violence and bloodshed. About 39 million Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand Line are confronted with a gigantic task of convincing the world that fault lies with policies and procedures and the blind pursuit of strategic interests by state and non-state actors and not with the people who laid the foundations of the splendid Gandahara civilization and spread the message peace, Love and Humanity to the world.

In their modern history Pashtuns founded a nonviolent movement in 1929 called the Khudai Khidmatgar--the servants of God, under the charismatic leadership of Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan. This movement played a remarkable role in the socio-political awakening of the Pashtuns and reforming the ills of their society.

"At every phase of history due to its strategic importance the Pashtun land was used as a battle ground by global powers and their regional allies to perpetuate their economic and strategic interests at the expense of unprecedented miseries and sufferings for the local communities. It is high time for the Pashtuns to follow the footsteps of their forefathers and stand for peace and stability in the region by alienating themselves from terrorist organizations imposed upon them from the outside", said Idrees Kamal, convenor of the Pashtunkhwa Peace Movement, a representative body of the several traders and civil society organizations in North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

Kamal maintained that the Peace Movement was launched in wake of the deteriorating law and order situation in the region to discourage the killing of innocent people in the name of religion and to raise voice for millions of those people who were caught in the crossfire between the security forces and Taliban militants in the Swat Valley and Pakistan tribal areas.

It is worth mentioning that the activists of the peace movement publically raised their voices by holding protest demonstrations and peace walks against suicide attacks and bomb blasts in different parts of the country when the leadership of certain political and religious parties either kept silence or justified the acts of terrorism on the pre-text of the presence of United States forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

Activists of the movement also demanded of the government that targeted and immediate operation against all centers and networks of terrorism should be initiated and the blunders of the past should not be repeated.
"Our aim is to educate the masses by holding panel discussions, conferences and protest demonstrations on issues that is affecting peace and stability in the region. We want to engage the people in peace making and peace-building process so that to help them work for the safer future of the coming generations", Kamal elaborated adding that for durable peace in the region it is inevitable that all foreign, non-local and local terrorists groups in FATA should be eliminated and damages to people's lives and properties should be compensated. Moreover a comprehensive developmental package should be commenced according to the wishes and aspirations of the people of FATA and NWFP.

The war has destroyed socio-economic infrastructure in NWFP and FATA that is resulting into billions of losses for the local population. Therefore Peace Movement has time and again demanded of the government that all the international Aid, and grants obtained on the name of terrorism should be spent in NWFP province and Pakistan Federally Administered Tribal Areas, NWFP should be declared as war affected and all types of taxes and utility bills be waived-off.
The Movement also organized a two-day conference on the current security situation in the region in Peshawar on December 12-13, 2009. After heated debates on the issue of terrorism it issues a declaration called as Peshawar declaration.

According to the declaration it was unanimously agreed that the main and real factor behind the present chaos and instability in the region is the Strategic Depth policy of Pakistan. This is the root cause of terrorism in the region. Therefore, this forum strongly demands of the abolition of this policy and accountability of all architects of this policy because the policy has caused far more financial damage to Pakistan than NRO and debts waive-off put together. This policy is also responsible for killing and maiming millions of the innocent people in Pukhtunkwa and other parts of Pakistan.

The conference also demanded in the strongest possible words that Pakistan must have to stop her policy of interference in Afghanistan and accept Afghanistan as a sovereign independent state in the region. The conference believed that this is in the interests of millions of people of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Commenting on the outcomes of the conference Idrees Kamal said that democracy is the first requisite of peace and prosperity therefore the Peace Movement fully supports the present democratic and elected government and elected President of Pakistan to fulfill their constitutional obligations including their tenure. This conference also strongly condemns the ongoing propaganda by the media and by the so called political parties and out-fits which are active to destabilize the government.

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