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ACHA PEACE BULLETIN

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http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/ACHAPeaceBulletin

A publication of

Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA)

 www.asiapeace.org  &  www.indiapakistanpeace.org

 

Editor:  Pritam K. Rohila, PhD       pritam@open.org

 

Subscription is free.

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Volume X, No. 3, March 15, 2006; Next Issue, April 15, 2006

 

CONTENTS

Editorial

            Communal Violence and Communal Harmony in South Asia- Pritam Rohila

Peace & Harmony News

*Indian Air Force Shield Pak Troops From Common Foe

*Pakistanis And Indians Organize First Joint Fundraiser In Los Angeles

*Picture Of Harmony In Varanasi, India

*Muslims Offer Prayers For Varanasi Victims

*A 'Fatwa' Against Terrorists Attacking Places Of Worship

*Bowling For Harmony

*Thimphu, Dhaka to expand trade relations

*Lanka for open skies accord with India

*Bhutan & India: Along Friendship Trail

*Bangladesh Trade Fair Opens In Bhutan

*Pak-Afghan Women Traders To Ink Accord

*Visa Exemptions In India For Saarc Scribes Soon

*Bhutan To Link Up With Indian Rail

*India, Pakistan To Expand Air Connectivity

*3 Indian Banks Plan Branches In Pak

*Lanka, Pak To Discuss Range Of Issues

*Third Round Of Indo-Pak Talks From March 28

*B'desh Pm's India Trip Eyes Warm Ties

*Next Round Of Lanka Peace Talks In April

*Bangladesh Visa Office In Ne India Soon

*India, Pakistan Agree Joint Bid For 2011 World Cup,

*Indo-Bangla Joint Coast Guard Exercise

*Peshawar (Pakistan)-Jalalabad (Afghanistan) Bus To Start In March

*Lankan Govt, Rebels Mark End To Deadlock

*Safta: Help For Ldcs Applies From Jan 1

*Five Ex-Commanders Surrender Arms

*Indo-Pak Conclave For Free Flow Of Journals

*Aman Setu (Peace Bridge) Is Open Again

*Thaw In The Thar: New Train Links India And Pakistan

*Hindu-Muslim Muharram Procession

*Pak Group Attends Indian History Congress

*S Asian Media To Work For Peace, Harmony

 *We Are Committed To Dialogue With Pak: Indian President Kalam

*Indian Pm Singh Calls Kashmir Peace Conference

*’Composite Culture In A Multicultural Society’ Book Fair,

Peace Awards

*Seema Anil Sehgal

Peace Education & Training

*The Upeace Dual Campus Master's Degree Program In Peace Ed

*6th South Asian Orientation Course In Human Rights And Peace Studies.

Peace Games

*A Force More Powerful:

Peace Organizations

*Foundation For Pluralism,

 

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EDITORAL

 

Communal Violence and Communal Harmony in South Asia

Pritam K. Rohila, Ph. D. pritamr@open.org

 

Communal conflict has plagued South Asia for many decades. Lately its incidence seems to be increasing.

 

Of course, there are many grievances and injustices are responsible for the problem. Media also has something to do with it.

 

Reports of communal violence in the news make it appear to be more widespread than it really is. This has the effect of provoking frustration, anger, resentment, suspicion and enmity in some people; others respond to it with pessimism and despair. The former are then encouraged to seek revenge and resort to more violence; the latter become unwilling or unable to do what they can and should do to counter the problem.

 

Communal conflict in South Asia is real and must be dealt with. But it is also a fact, that most of the time most people of different faiths live there peaceably.

 

There are many cultural practices, and places of worship shared by followers of different faiths. It is not uncommon for Hindu and Sikhs to visit shrines and participate in festivals of each other. Representations of Christ are found in many Hindu homes, and people of other faiths celebrate Christmas and attend Christian educational institutions.

 

Even in Gujarat, the scene of state-aided genocidal violence, just three years ago, some Muslim groups regularly pray at local Hindu temples, and some Hindus visit Muslim dargahs and participate in some Islamic rituals, like Muharram.

 

During communal riots, there have been many instances of members of one religious community protecting those of others.

 

In an attempt to counter-balance the propagation of violence by media, ACHA, since its inception in 1993, has been publicizing peace and communal harmony news from South Asia. We hope that a more realistic picture of the state of affairs will help restore sense of hope and optimism. It is likely to encourage some people to work for tolerance, friendship, and peace.

 

Is it like pursuing a dream? May be it is. But we would rather chase a dream that instill a sense of hope, than something that drowns people in despair!

 

Is it too little, too late? Probably it is. We hope these little drops of rain, someday will turn into a pond, a stream, a river, and may be even an ocean!

 

PEACE & HARMONY NEWS

 

*Indian Air Force shield Pak troops from common foe HINDUSTAN TIMES February 23,2006 http://www.southasianmedia.net/index_story.cfm?id=272274&category=Frontend&Country=MAIN

 

NEW DELHI: Believe it or not, an IAF contingent flew off to the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday with its task cut out: to give air cover to Pakistani ground troops stationed at Bukavu, one of the areas worst hit by the civil war in Congo. Both the Pakistani and Indian troops are part of a UN peacekeeping force… Moreover, Indian and Pakistani soldiers will be sharing the same camp and eating at the same mess,” said an IAF officer.

 

*Pakistanis and Indians Organize First Joint Fundraiser in Los Angeles, Pakistan Link,


Buena Park, CA, USA: Spurning animosities and embracing affinities, members of the Pakistani and Indian communities in the Los Angeles area organized the first-ever joint fundraiser in aid of the October 8 Earthquake victims at the Jain Center Cultural Complex on Saturday, March 4.


The artists of the two countries set the tone of the evening's proceedings as they crooned with remarkable spontaneity:


Dharkan hae Hindustan agar

Chand Pakistan hae...

Maen bhi Pakistan hoon

Too bhi Hindustan hae...


The evening seemed to relay a message: Pakistan and India could live as friends as do the US and Canada. Surely, the people of the two countries are peace loving.

 

*Picture of harmony in Varanasi, India The Telegraph | Monday, March 13,2006

http://www.southasianmedia.net/index_story.cfm?id=277175&category=Frontend&Country=INDIA&pro=0

 

In Varanasi, a number of social organisations staged demonstrations condemning the March 7 blasts.


Lyricist Javed Akhtar, social activist Swami Agnivesh and human rights lawyer Teesta Setalvad participated in a peace march taken out from the BHU gate to Rajendra Prasad Ghat. The activists of a cultural organisation "Bharat Vikas Parishad" took out a procession and raised slogans advocating Hindu-Muslim unity.


A "Sadbhavna Yatra" was taken by the workers of the Nehru Yuvak Kendra from Lanka to Dashaswamedh area. A large number of Muslims attended a public meeting. prominent leaders of various minority outfits criticised the terror attacks and urged the people of the city to maintain peace to foil the designs of the perpetrators of the blasts.

 

*Muslims offer prayers for Varanasi victims (March 9 2006, NDTV)

http://www.ndtv.com/template/template.asp?category=National&template=Varanasiblasts&slug=Muslims+offer+prayers+for+Varanasi+victims&id=85582&callid=1

 

LUCKNOW: Varanasi has shown remarkable resilience in the aftermath of the bomb attacks.

 

Thousands gathered at the holy shrine of Hazrat Abbas in Lucknow with feelings of sadness and anger at the attack on the Sankat Mochan temple in Varanasi.

 

*A 'fatwa' against terrorists attacking places of worship, Sharat Pradhan, Rediff.com, March 13, 2006 21:30 IST, http://in.rediff.com/news/2006/mar/13up.htm

 

Lucknow: Firangi Mahal chief Maulana Khalid Rasheed , who was also the Imam of Lucknow's Idgah, " ruled, "There was absolutely no room for terrorism in Islam and murder of one innocent person amounted to murder of entire humanity." The Maulana's fatwa added, "If any Muslim causes harm to any place of worship of indulges in killing of innocent people, Islam would regard it as the worst possible crime and the Shariat would consider it absolutely unlawful."

 

*Bowling for harmony, Indian Express, Feb. 25 2006

http://www.indianexpress.com/full_story.php?content_id=87893

 

Karawada is only 10 km from the Gujarat border, where in ’99, Seva Mandir, an organisation working in 500 villages in Udaipur district, decided to take up the challenge of restoring communal harmony. A ‘Urja Ghar’ was established where the children of both communities could play games, watch TV, borrow books and celebrate religious functions. Seva Mandir then decided to promote village cricket.

 

Ansarbhai Makrani, has been astounded at the transformation of relations between the communities.

 

*Thimphu, Dhaka to expand trade relations KUENSEL ONLINE | March 14,2006

http://www.southasianmedia.net/index_story.cfm?id=277564&category=Frontend&Country=BHUTAN

 

THIMPHU: Bhutan and its second largest trading partner, Bangladesh, are exploring ways to expand its trade, which today stands at Nu. 600 million a year. The four-day Bangladesh Single Country Trade Fair in Thimphu, the sixth of its kind, which ends today, showcased a wide range of new products; interior fittings, building materials, pharmaceuticals, handloom products, education and institutional services, confectionaries, cosmetics and toiletries.


*Lanka for open skies accord with India LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE |March  14,2006

http://www.southasianmedia.net/index_story.cfm?id=277372&category=Frontend&Country=MAIN

 

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka will push for an open skies agreement with India, on the sidelines of trade talks in May to liberalise service sectors of both countries. Both sides are finalising positions for talks on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), with areas like shipping, tourism and financial services also making the list.

 

*Bhutan & India: Along friendship trail KUENSEL ONLINE | Friday, March 10,2006 http://www.southasianmedia.net/index_story.cfm?id=276271&category=Frontend&Country=BHU TAN 

 

THIMPHU: A pictorial journey of close interaction and friendship that Bhutan and India had over the years is being exhibited in a photo exhibition in Kolkata, India. Titled the “India Bhutan - Along the Friendship Trail,” the exhibition, which started on March 6, was jointly presented by the Royal Bhutanese Embassy, New Delhi and the Indian ministry for external affairs at the Kolkata Information and Cultural Centre.

 

*Bangladesh trade fair opens in Bhutan KUENSEL ONLINE |March 10,2006

http://www.southasianmedia.net/index_story.cfm?id=276274&category=Frontend&Country=BHUTAN&pro=0

 

THIMPHU: A Bangladesh trade fair has opened at the swimming pool sports complex in Thimphu yesterday. The four-day event is expected to further strengthen bilateral trade relations between the two countries.

 

*Pak-Afghan women traders to ink accord PAJHWAK |Thursday, March 09,2006

http://www.southasianmedia.net/index_story.cfm?id=276198&category=Frontend&Country=AFGHANISTAN

 

ISLAMABAD: Head of Pakistan's Women Chamber of Commerce Shagufta Tuesday said they were poised to ink an accord on trade cooperation with the Afghan Ministry for Women Affairs. In a brief chat with Pajhwok Afghan News, Shagufta said they were ready to provide all-out cooperation to Afghanistan in the fields of industry, companies and trade.

 

*Visa exemptions in India for SAARC scribes soon DAILY TIMES |Thursday, March 09,2006

http://www.southasianmedia.net/index_story.cfm?id=275945&category=Frontend&Country=MAIN

 

NEW DELHI: Journalists of five-year standing from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries will soon be exempted from obtaining visas for entering India, said the Indian government in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

 

*Bhutan to link up with Indian Rail INDIAN EXPRESS |Tuesday, March 07,2006

http://www.southasianmedia.net/index_story.cfm?id=275423&category=Frontend&Country=BHUTAN&pro=0

 

KOLKATA: The Bhutan government is keen on forging railway linkages with India by 2007. It has already identified five strategic entry points from India to Bhutan for railways, which, it feels, would boost bilateral trade between the two countries in a big way.

 

*India, Pakistan to expand air connectivity, Rediff.com, March 07, 2006 19:02 IST

http://in.rediff.com/money/2006/mar/07air.htm

 

India and Pakistan on Tuesday decided to expand scope of existing air services agreement and agree to continue discussion for the enhancement of capacities, frequencies and gateways for the benefit of the traveling public of two countries. India and Pakistan now operate 12 flights each.

 

*3 Indian banks plan branches in Pak, Rediff.com, March 07, 2006 17:58 IST

http://in.rediff.com/money/2006/mar/07bank.htm

In a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Finance Pawan Kumar Bansal said Tuesday that the Reserve Bank has received requests from State Bank of India, Bank of India and Punjab National Bank to open two branches each in Pakistan.

 

*Lanka, Pak to discuss range of issues DAILY NEWS |Monday, March 06,2006

http://www.southasianmedia.net/index_story.cfm?id=275106&category=Frontend&Country=MAIN

 

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka and Pakistan are seeking to strengthen their close ties with the planned visit of President Mahinda Rajapakse at end March, officials said.
The bilateral talks will focus on a range of issues including defence cooperation.
Pakistan is a leading provider of training to Lankan troops.

 

*Third round of Indo-Pak talks from March 28, Rediff.com, March 6, 2006

http://in.rediff.com/news/2006/mar/06pak2.htm

India and Pakistan will hold the third round of talks on six of the eight topics of the Composite Dialogue from March 28 and conclude it with a review at foreign minister level on July 21.

 

*B'desh PM's India trip eyes warm ties THE DAILY STAR |Wednesday, March 1,2006

http://www.southasianmedia.net/index_story.cfm?id=273870&category=Frontend&Country=MAIN

 

DHAKA: Seeking good neighbourly relations with India, Prime Minister Khaleda Zia is going to New Delhi next month on a three-day visit to find a common ground for resolving the outstanding bilateral issues, some of which date back to the partition of the subcontinent like boundary demarcation.

 

*Next round of Lanka peace talks in April TIMES OF INDIA |Tuesday, February 28,2006 http://www.southasianmedia.net/index_story.cfm?id=273601&category=Frontend&Country=MAIN

 

COLOMBO: The Norwegian government was taking steps to arrange the next round of the parleys between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger rebels in mid-April, a spokesman for the Norwegian Embassy told the media.

 

*Bangladesh visa office in NE India soon WEBINDIA123 |Monday, February 27,2006 http://www.southasianmedia.net/index_story.cfm?id=273322&category=Frontend&Country=MAIN

 

AIZAWL: Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Veena Sikri Sunday stated that India is considering to open a full-fledged Bangladesh High Commission in NE to facilitate travel of the people here to Bangladesh.

 

*India, Pakistan agree joint bid for 2011 World Cup, Rediff.com, February 25, 2006 12:04 IST
http://in.rediff.com/cricket/2006/feb/25world.htm

 

The four South Asian Test nations, India, Pakistan, along with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, formally decided on Friday to submit a joint bid to stage the 2011 World Cup.

 

*Indo-Bangla Joint Coast Guard Exercise, India West, February 24, 2006

 

KOLKATA (PTI) - The first Indo-Bangladesh joint Coast Guard exercise was held in the Bay of Bengal off Sagar Island January 25.

 

The objectives of the exercise were to develop standard operating procedures between the two countries to tackle smuggling, poaching, piracy, maritime terrorism, and oil spills, the sources said.

 

*Peshawar (Pakistan)-Jalalabad (Afghanistan) bus to start in March DAILY TIMES Thursday, February 23,2006 http://www.southasianmedia.net/index_story.cfm?id=272179&category=Frontend&Country=MAIN

 

ISLAMABAD: A bus service between Peshawar and Jalalabad will start from March, according to an announcement made Wednesday following talks between Pakistani officials and a six-member Afghan delegation led by Muhammad Hashim Wahiz Zada, the deputy minister for policy and planning.

 

*Lankan govt, rebels mark end to deadlock AFP | Thursday, February 23,2006 http://www.southasianmedia.net/index_story.cfm?id=272246&category=Frontend&Country=MAIN

 

CELIGNY, Switzerland: Sri Lanka's warring parties marked the formal end to a three-year deadlock in efforts to halt a conflict which has claimed 60,000 lives, kicking off talks at a peaceful Swiss chateau with a frosty handshake.

 

*SAFTA: Help for LDCs applies from Jan 1 DAILY TIMES | Thursday, February 23,2006 http://www.southasianmedia.net/index_story.cfm?id=272168&category=Frontend&Country=MAIN

 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, while ratifying the South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement, has decided that provisions related to technical assistance to the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) of SAARC will have retrospective effect and should be deemed applied from January 1, 2006.

 

*Five ex-commanders surrender arms REUTERS |Wednesday, February 22,2006 http://www.southasianmedia.net/index_story.cfm?id=271880&category=Frontend&Country=AFGHANISTAN&pro=0

 

KABUL: Five ex-commanders in Afghanistan's southwestern Paktya province voluntarily surrendered 15 mt of ammunition, as well as more than 30 light and heavy weapons, to the Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) programme, officials from the UN-backed initiative announced on Tuesday in the Afghan capital, Kabul.


*
Indo-Pak conclave for free flow of journals, Rediff.com, February 22, 2006 11:50 IST
http://in.rediff.com/news/2006/feb/22books.htm


A three-day 'Pen for Peace' conference, underway at the Jamia Millia University in New Delhi, has brought about 50 Pakistan writers, poets, artists, musicians and media persons in a bid to further the process of peace through people-to-people contact.

 

*Aman Setu (Peace Bridge) is open again, Rediff.com, February 21, 2006

http://in.rediff.com/news/2006/feb/21firstlook.htm

 

The Aman Setu or Peace Bridge at the Line of Control was thrown open for the second time on February 20, by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Lieutenant General SS Dhillon, who heads the army in the state.

 

*Thaw in the Thar: New Train Links India and Pakistan, Yoginder Sikand, February 19, 2006

Cries of 'Long Live India-Pakistan Friendship' rend the air as the Thar Express streams out of the Jodhpur railway station on the evening of the 17th of February, heading for the Pakistan border.  The next afternoon, a train bearing the same name crosses into India from Mirpur Khas in Sindh and chugs into Munabao, a desert settlement in Rajasthan's Barmer district, barely two kilometers from the border, being warmly welcomed by an enthusiastic crowd of several thousand people. 'May the Thar Express become the Yar (Friendship) Express bringing India and Pakistan ever closer than before', exclaims the compare of the function held by the Indian Railways to inaugurate the resumption of the railway link between Rajasthan and Sindh, which was terminated in the wake of the 1965 India-Pakistan war.

 

*Hindu-Muslim Muharram Procession, India West, February 17, 2006

 

KADEGAON, Maharashtra (PTI): Hindus and Muslims took out a joint procession to mark Muharram here in Sangli district February 9. The Muslim festival was marked peacefully all over India. (see attached picture)

 

*Pak Group Attends Indian History Congress, India West, February 17, 2006

 

KOLKATA, West Bengal (PTI): Pakistan sent an official delegation for the first time to the Indian Hstory Congress scheduled from January 28 at the Viswa Bharati University.

 

*S Asian media to work for peace, harmony THE DAILY STAR |Thursday, February 16,2006 http://www.southasianmedia.net/index_story.cfm?id=270469&category=Frontend&Country=MAIN

 

DHAKA: South Asian media can effectively contribute towards promoting peace and harmony in the region by minimising negative trends for larger benefits of the one fifth of mankind living in the area, a high-profile media conference agreed after three-day deliberations.

 

*We are committed to dialogue with Pak: Indian President Kalam, February 16, 2006 14:58 IST http://in.rediff.com/news/2006/feb/16kalam1.htm

 

President A P J Abdul Kalam said on Thursday that the government is committed to a composite dialogue process with Pakistan.

 

*Indian PM Singh calls Kashmir peace conference, Reuters, 15 Feb 2006 08:44:50 GMT

NEW DELHI, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called a conference of Kashmiri politicians and separatist leaders this month to help boost a peace process in the revolt-torn region, his spokesman said on Wednesday. The Feb. 24 conference, the first of its kind, would be held in the Indian capital and aims to broaden the dialogue in the troubled region where New Delhi has so far held one-on-one talks with political separatist groups.


*Composite culture in a multicultural society’ Book Fair, Hindu.com, February 5, 2006 http://www.efionline.org/view_detail.asp?month_issue=Feburary%202006%20:%20Issue%20II&main_heading=Must%20Read&efinewsid=1661

 

NEW DELHI: ‘Composite culture in a multicultural society’ was the theme of the 17th New Delhi World Book Fair, which drew to an end on Saturday.

 

PEACE AWARDS

 

Mumbai-based singer-composer from Jammu & Kashmir, Seema Anil Sehgal, has been conferred India's prestigious Hakim Khan Sur Award for the year 2005-2006, for her 'lasting contribution in the field of national integration' through her music.


Seema has effectively employed her music with meaningful poetry to establish peace and communal harmony in India and abroad. She has sung and composed music to the works of many poets, including Bulley Shah, Allama Iqbal and Faiz Ahmed Faiz, presented at concerts in India and elsewhere.

 

PEACE EDUCATION & TRAINING

 

*March 31, 2006 is the deadline for The UPEACE Dual Campus MASTER'S DEGREE PROGRAM IN PEACE EDUCATION at the UN-mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica and its International Centre in Canada. is designed to builds the capacity of educators from around the world to contribute to educational, social, and cultural change through peace education.  More info from  www.upeace.org or info@upeace.org

 

*March 25 is the deadline for applications for the SIXTH SOUTH ASIAN ORIENTATION COURSE IN HUMAN RIGHTS AND PEACE STUDIES. The last date for receiving applications is Application form can be downloaded from http://www.safhr-hrps.org/ApplicationForm.doc and http://www.safhr.org/ApplicationForm.doc


For further information on the course structure, content and methodologies, read the fifth course report at http://www.safhr-hrps.org/asset/Peace%20studies%20report5.pdf

 

PEACE GAMES

 

*A FORCE MORE POWERFUL: This is the first and only game to teach the waging of conflict using nonviolent methods. Destined for use by activists and leaders of nonviolent resistance and opposition movements, the game will also educate the media and general public on the potential of nonviolent action and serve as a simulation tool for academic studies of nonviolent resistance. More Info from http://www.afmpgame.com/

 

PEACE ORGANIZATIONS

 

*Foundation For Pluralism, www.FoundationforPluralism.com , Contact Person: Mike Ghouse, 214.325.1916, MIKEGHOUSE@aol.com

 

Founded in Texas, USA, on May 28, 2004, the Foundation For Pluralism is a moderated electronic discussion group with a mission to “promote Religious pluralism, i.e., learning to accept and respect every which way people have come to worship the divine, including but not limited to the Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Jain, Jewish, Sikh and Zoroastrian systems of belief.”


It observes the following seven “Commandments Of Pluralism”


1. We shall not commit another sin in attempting to make our religion look better by blaming other religions for the shortcomings of their "followers".


2. We shall not contaminate the purity of our hearts with negative (ill) thoughts about others religions of God. We should not build our castles on some one else's "perceived" weaknesses,  which would be a poor foundation to build our faith on.

 

3. We shall not ridicule any one that God has created. It amounts to ridiculing the will of God.

4. We shall not attempt to undermine the divinity of other faiths, that would amount to arrogance and that is the first thing God wants us to shed to be a righteous person.

5. We shall not blame any religion or a group for the acts of the individuals. Let’s separate wrong doers from religion and appreciate the goodness of each Religion.

6. We shall not forget that spirituality comes from winning over (Jihad) one's greed, anger, instincts to control, haughtiness, ill will, pettiness, malice and ignorance.

7. We shall not dishonor any form of praise and worship to the divine. The world is a better place today because of religion, without which there would be more chaos.

We believe that knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance and appreciation of people with a different point of view.