DALLAS: Human rights and democracy advocacy group South Asia Democracy Watch (SADeW) and University of Texas Dallas Asia Center held a special seminar on “Aman Ki Asha – Hope for Peace- Cost of conflict in South Asia” at the TI auditorium of University of Texas Dallas.
By Raja Zahid A Khanzada
Scholars and activists from South Asian communities participated in a panel discussion where various aspects of the conflict were highlighted.
The program director of Aman Ki Asha project, Beena Sarwar was the key note speaker. She presented the details of Aman Ki Asha project, which is a joint venture between Jang/ Geo News and Times of India.
She said the vision behind the program was to bring people of India and Pakistan closer and facilitate people to people diplomacy in order to enhance cooperation among people of the region.
Beena Sarwar said a large number of artists, poets, journalists and writers participated in its programs, where experts in agriculture, IT, energy, health and experts in other fields are also participating through exchanges, conferences and visitations.
She said people have welcomed these exchanges of delegations. This has helped tremendously in levelling public opinion and in creation of conducive environment for dialogues between leaders of both the countries.
Talking about the situation in Kashmir, Dr. Nyla Khan who is a Professor at University of Oklahoma and is a granddaughter of Kashmir’s leader late Sheikh Abdullah said that a stable and prosperous Pakistan and India are essential for the regional growth.
She said that the current stalemate in dialogues between two countries should end immediately and practical solutions should be looked at to end the conflict.
She said the main reason behind the deprivation of people and bad relations between two countries was
An entrepreneur and community leader from Houston Mr. Sunil Sharma while addressing the seminar said that leadership from both countries was not serious on peace.
He said if Berlin Wall can fall, then there was no reason Pakistan and India could not live in peace.
South Asia Democracy Watch director and panel expert Dr. Pritpal Singh said that according to a report, 70% of Indian Sikh youth aged between eighteen to twenty six years are consuming drugs.
Dr. Singh said that around 200 to 600 billion dollars of trade take place in the world between regional partners; however Pakistan and India trade volume does not go higher than just 3 billion dollars.
Singh said this trade could easily be increased to 10 billion dollars, without much effort. He said peace is sometimes difficult and may take some time to achieve, but people need to keep pushing for it .
Ms. Monique Wedderburn, who was the Master of Ceremony , introduced the Asia Center at UT Dallas to audience.
South Asia Democracy Watch President Amir Makahani said that peace is essential before any justice system can take place in any society.
South Asia Democracy Watch General Secretary Syed Fayyaz Hassan, and directors, Aftab Siddiqui, Raja Zahid Khanzada, Asif Effendi, Tausif Kamal, Raja Muzaffar Kashmiri, Tausif Kamal, Dr. Mona Kazim Shah, Akbar Birani and a large number of community members from South Asia and University students attended the event.
Monique Wedderburn conducted the question and answer session and presented the conference concluding remarks.