LAHORE: Members of Pakistan-India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) has strongly condemned the ceasefire violations and firings taking place on the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB) or Working Boundary (WB) along the bordering regions of the two countries. It said even though this issue was highlighted in the meeting of the Prime Ministers in Ufa,Russia on the 10th of July 2015, there continues to be a consistent lack of political will from both sides in genuinely addressing the issue.
The Forum pointed out that in the last two years, there have been nearly 800-recorded incidents of ceasefire violations in the border area. In the month of July 2015 alone, there were 11 incidents. The recent firing last week left 16 injured and 1 dead on the Indian side in Rajouri and Poonch sectors and 5 injured and 4 dead in the Sialkot and Rawalakot’s Neza Pir sector in Pakistan.
It pointed out that the ceasefire violations have adversely impacted the lives of people living in border areas. Security fencing laid by the security agencies in the middle of cultivable land has impacted crops and led to large parts of land lying unused. Local and migrant workers are unable to work in the fields due to fear of firing and shelling, leading to large-scale migration and displacement. The schools are regularly suspended and turned into relief camps until peace is restored. These camps are in dismal condition; food, water and hygiene facilities are inadequate, forcing people to return to their homes before they are declared safe. The armed forces and the media of both countries indulge in irresponsible blame-games and trading of allegations, which ultimately only harm citizens and lead to escalation of conflict. The people living in border areas are in a position of disadvantage not because they live in border areas, but because border areas have become a site for acting out political conflict and jingoistic nationalism. Border areas have been made consciously uninhabitable in a bid of one-upmanship between India and Pakistan, causing irrevocable harm to citizens on both sides of the border.
PIPFPD strongly recommended for attaining long term/ permanent solutions to this issue. For this purpose it called for immediate restoration of .flag meetings and contacts between the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) of India andPakistan; immediate meeting of NSAs of both the countries as decided in Ufa and resumption of a structured dialogue between India and Pakistan. It further suggested that both governments must seek and employ third party impartial and independent watchdog mechanisms involving journalists, retired judges, prominent civil society members and parliamentarians in the IB & LoC to find the factual truth behind these firings and there should be deeper discussions and deliberations on the ceasefire agreement of 2003 and its relevance in the current days context within civil and political circles.
The PIPFPD believed that the restoration of dialogue and peace talks at the highest level can bring back normalcy to the lives of thousands of suffering people living in border areas. A long-term solution depends on a stronger political will within civil and political circles of both the countries, it added.