SAHR-SAFMA Peace Mission to New Delhi – Let People Unite Against Terrorism and War

SAHR-SAFMA Peace Mission to New Delhi

Let People Unite Against Terrorism and War

Lahore-New Delhi: 21-24 January 2009


The South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) and South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) have jointly decided to take a Peace Mission from Pakistan to New Delhi from 21st to 24th January 2009. The 19-Member Delegation will interact with civil society, media and political leadership of India to stress the need to keep the peace process going, jointly fight the scourge of terrorism at all levels and in every manner and avoid war in the best interest of the peoples of India and Pakistan. The Peace Mission will explore the possibilities of reciprocation by the civil society of India.


The Peace Mission condemns, unequivocally and unreservedly the November 26 terrorist attack in Mumbai as a most heinous crime against innocent people. We share the grief of the families of victims and the people of India whose friendship we cherish.


Unfortunately, this outrage has brought India and Pakistan to a dangerous crossroads and we hope we will not be diverted from the path of peace. The two countries must not allow the terrorists to hijack the peace agenda. They must resume the Composite Dialogue process, and the sooner the better. War or even a state of suspended hostility between India and Pakistan will blight the whole region’s future.


India’s rage after Mumbai was justified and the world had sympathy for it. When Pakistan revealed its hurt it didn’t wash with the world and ended with bringing Pakistan’s democratic experiment under tremendous strain. Unfortunately the media on both sides did not pay due heed to the long-term interests of the subcontinent’s teeming millions.


After passing through a denial mould, Pakistan has acknowledged that the surviving Mumbai raider came from Pakistan which it should have accepted much earlier. Subsequently, the interior ministry has ordered an investigation and vowed to bring the culprits to justice. We hope the investigation will be thorough and fair and the Pakistan establishment will take all possible measures not to let anyone use its soil for murderous games. Meanwhile, India must eschew anger and get Pakistan to engage in negotiations on the basis of verified facts of the Mumbai attack. Whoever planned the Mumbai carnage wanted to foment conflict between India and Pakistan and prevent the latter from securing peace in its north western regions. They did succeed partially, but they must not be allowed any further success.


We appreciate the role of the international community in helping to defuse the situation and yet the South Asian context remains relevant. It is important that both India and Pakistan accept a South Asian cooperative methodology of resolving inter-state disputes. The wisdom may not appear realistic at the moment but it is unassailable. We must insist on evolving a SAARC mechanism for looking after our common problems.


Mumbai should not threaten Indo-Pak relations, nor should it endanger South Asia. It should compel South Asia to seek solutions to problems that are bound to become more trans-border than they are now. Terrorism is spreading like a disease. It has engulfed Afghanistan, a SAARC member, and has spread to most of Pakistan too. Some traces of it are already visible in India where a majority of the South Asian population lives. Instead of accusing each other of terrorism, the SAARC states must get together and discuss it as a common problem. A regional consensus against terrorism and extremism and a common strategy to fight it – that is the only answer.


It is only in this context that SAARC states could ask one another for the surrender of terrorists guilty of cross-border outrages. There are two possible reactions to trouble as it looms on the horizon. One is to build high walls and block communication so that calamity stays on the other side of the border. This has not worked and may work even less in the days to come. The only casualties are the peace process and the truth. The other way is to open up the region to trade routes and transport networks allowing free movement of people, goods and information. The SAARC protocols on terrorism need to be made more effective.


The Mumbai attack was paradigmatic, which means patterns of behaviour must change fundamentally now for the sake of survival of SAARC states. This change cannot come through war. It must come through cooperation at both bilateral and regional levels. India and Pakistan must strengthen Joint Anti-terrorism mechanism. On the other hand, SAARC must evolve regional mechanisms and institutions to collectively fight terrorism, cross-border crimes, smuggling, narcotics trade and evolve a judicial forum to prosecute the terrorists and criminals wanted by one state or the other. We must forge friendship and burry the hatchet forever. We wish India well, so should you Pakistan. The people must unite against terrorism and war and persuade their governments to forge unity against the common enemy.


Imtiaz Alam                                                           Asma Jehangir,

Secretary General, SAFMA                                    SAHR-HRCP, Pakistan





  1. Mr. Haji Muhammad Adeel (Senator Awami National Party)
  2. Ms. Farzana Adeel (Wife)
  3. Mr. Ali Haroon Shah (former member Provincial Assembly & member of working committee PML N)
  4. Ms. Asma Jahangir (Chairperson HRCP)
  5. Mr. Ibn Abdur Rehman (IA Rehman) Senior Journalist & Bureau member of South Asian for Human Rights (SAHR)
  6. Ms. Salima Hashmi (Artist &Human Rights Activist)
  7. Mr. Iqbal Haider (former Senator, Law Minister & Co-chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)
  8. Ms. Syeda Maimanat Mohsin (Jugnu Mohsin) (Publisher and editor Friday Times)
  9. Mr. Muhammad Tehseen ( Executive Director South Asia Partnership)
  10. Mr. Brig (r) Rao Abid (Peace activist)
  11. Mr. Dr. Abdul Hameed Nayyar (educationist research fellow SDPI)
  12. Ms. Samina Bano Rahman (Women’s Action Forum)
  13. Mr. Kamran Arif (HRCP & specialist on FATA and Northern Areas)
  14. Ms. Mussarrat Hilali (Vice Chair NWFP, of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan)
  15. Mr. Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed (former member National Assembly & PPP working committee)
  16. Mr. Imtiaz Alam (Executive Director SAFMA)  
  17. Mr. Nusrat Javeed (Senior Journalist)
  18. Mr. Mustansar Javed (Senior Journalist)
  19. Mr. Munir Ahmed (Munoo Bhai) (Senior Columnist)
  20. Dr. Hassan Askari Rizvi (Independent political and defense analyst)


For Media Coverage


Ms. Phyza Jameel (Bureau Chief CNBC Pakistan-Lahore)

Ms. Asma Sherazi (TV Journalist and encore person)

SAHR statement on the Assasination of Lasantha Wickrematunge

From South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) network


The members of South Asians for Human Rights vehemently condemn the attack on Lasantha Wickrematunge, Chief Editor of the Sunday Leader, who succumbed to his injuries in hospital today. His is the latest in the long list of media personnel who have lost their lives in the pursuit of a truly free media environment in Sri Lanka. This however, was not the first time he was targeted, as he has faced many threats against his life, with even the Sunday Leader office coming under attack on previous occasions.


Mr. Wickrematunge was attacked early Thursday morning by four armed men dressed in black and wearing black helmets on motorcycles had blocked his vehicle and opened fire, hitting him in the neck and chest, leaving him critically injured. The shooting took place in broad daylight at the bakery junction in Attidiya which is close to Ratmalana military base.


This brutal killing of an out spoken and veteran journalist comes in the wake of yet another attack on MTV/MBC transmission station where a gang of 20 armed men with T-56 rifles and explosives destroyed the main control room and caused extensive damage estimated at around 200 million. SAHR notes with dismay and concern the many other previous attacks on media personnel, and the pathetic attempts or the mere show of an inquiry and investigation by the state; which to this date have not brought a single person to book in connection with these cases. This only goes to show the level of impunity prevalent in the country.


SAHR demands that an independent unbiased investigation be carried out, and that the perpetrators are brought to justice to face a fair trial. SAHR also underlines the responsibilities of a truly democratic state, to protect media freedom and preserve freedom of speech.


I K Gujral

Chairperson SAHR

Colombo Declaration: Freedom and Safety of Media in Conflict Situations

We, the participants at SAARC Journalists Summit-IV on ‘Freedom of media in conflict situations’ in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on July 30-31, and August 1, 2008, have agreed to adopt the following Colombo Declaration on Freedom and Safety of Journalists:


Deeply concerned by attacks on the freedom of media and media persons including murder, deliberate attacks, abductions, hostage-taking, harassment, intimidation, illegal arrest and detention and incitement to violence against them due to their professional activities in the conflict zones and beyond in the South Asian region;


Believing that media freedom is inseparable from the fundamental human and civil rights guaranteed by the constitution and enforceable through independent judiciary in a democratic system where both the state and society respect freedoms, show tolerance to dissent and practice pluralism;


Recalling Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that guarantees freedom of expression as a fundamental right, and confirming that freedom of expression is essential to the realization of other rights set forth in international human rights instruments, and endorsing Resolution 29 entitled “Condemnation of violence against journalists”, adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on 12 November 1997 that calls on Member States to uphold their obligations to prevent, investigate and punish crimes against journalists,


Endorsing the adoption by the Security Council of the United Nations of Resolution 1738 on 23 December 2006 calling on all parties to an armed conflict to fulfill their obligations towards journalists under international law, including the need to prevent impunity for crimes against them and further requesting the Secretary-General to include as a sub-item in his next reports the issue of the safety and security of media professionals and organisations;


Taking note of hitches and obstacles to transition to full democracy in the countries of the region, such as Bangladesh, the Maldives and Pakistan;


Disturbed over the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and the tribal belt of Pakistan and urging the concerned authorities and security agencies to take appropriate measures against extremism, terrorism and intolerance, avoiding, however, collateral damage to people in general and journalists in particular;


Concerned about the increasing tide of intolerance by state and non-state violent elements against free expression among the member countries of SAARC; Continue reading

SAARC states urged to attend to people’s rights and needs

Press Release, July 31


Lahore: While welcoming the SAARC Summit in Colombo (August 2-3, 2008), the South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional body of human rights activists, has commended the SAARC governments’ decision to address people’s daily concerns – food, water, energy and environment, and urged the member states to ensure social justice by ensuring the promotion of people’s fundamental rights.


In a statement issued by the SAHR chairperson and co-chairperson, Mr. I.K. Gujral (India) and Dr. Hameeda Hossain (Bangladesh), the organization drew SAARC members’ attention to several grave situations in the region. It said: Continue reading