Demolish the temple, demolish the Mosque,
Demolish all that can be demolished,
But do not injure the heart of people,
for that is where God resides.
This is the lesson that we, the women of Pakistan and India, have taken back with us from our dialogue organized by Save Global in Mumbai in November 2010. Save Global gave us the opportunity to listen to each other’s grief , share our concerns, develop understanding of each other’s pressing issues of insecurity, violence and poverty, connect with each other as good neighbors and not as enemies, feel each other as human, and build bridges of sisterhood on the basis of commonalities. Based on natural, historical and cultural factors, a great commonality flows between two important countries of South Asia, which one would imagine should be used for greater cooperation and hence progress and development.
It was the first time that the impact of extremism on women from both sides was shared. It also gave us the opportunity to tell everyone how this war on terror has affected the state and nation of Pakistan in myriad ways. It is we the people of Pakistan that are facing suicide attacks; it is our children who have been psychologically affected; it is our youth who have become the victims; and it is our women who have to bear the brunt. It is through such sisterly forums that we can share our insights, sufferings and feelings. SAVE Global provided us an environment to break down our misperceptions, distrust, and doubts towards each other and develop a common vision of peace and sisterhood for the Sub-continent. We believe that it is through such interactions at different levels that misperceptions regarding each other can be addressed.
We also realized that women have been totally ignored in peace negotiations or talks between Pakistan and India. It is high time that women are included in all peace talks between the two countries.
In closing I would like to say:
Amongst the values held in special esteem in Pakistan and India are respect for the human personality, recognition of the primacy of spirit, the importance of religion in life, faith in the unity of mankind, the kinship of all religions, and devotion to peace and creative work.
To preserve these values and eradicate some of the suicidal conflicts of the 21st Century it is necessary to rewrite history on rational and human lines, to link politics with morality, to subordinate the idea of fanaticism to the concept of human brotherhood and unity, and to develop an active appreciation for the cultures, religions and attitudes of other people.
SAVE Global gave us the opportunity to rebuild bridges of sisterhood and friendship in the region.