Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA)
India-Pakistan Peace Day 2004
“Pakistanis and Indians living in the greater Washington area held a peace march this weekend to celebrate their 57th Independence Day. They welcomed recent moves by the two governments to resolve their differences through talks….Speakers said the regions that were economically behind South Asia in 1947, when India and Pakistan became independent, had moved ahead while wars and conflicts slowed progress in South Asia.” (UPI)
*Indian, Pak communities jointly observe I-Day with rallies, ANI, August 15, 2004
“…as the first rains of Hurricane Charley arrived in Washington, a small group of Indians and Pakistanis joined together for a rally outside the Indian Embassy….The goal of the event was to present petitions at both the Indian and Pakistani embassies. The petitions included letters to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to acknowledge the destruction of multiple wars with a monument to the victims of the Partition…The people attending the rally wore signs reading peace in Hindi, Urdu and English. For them, the experience was one of commonality, all desiring peace.” (ANI)
“…the most encouraging feature was that in spite of the heavy rain more than 100 people showed up to hug the concept of PEACE. I am again tempted to say, "SARE JAHAN SE ACCHA SUBCONTINENT HAMARA". Clearly, the people are ready to move for peace; INSAN HAIN HUM PHIR FARAQ QYUN HO!! I am dreaming of the day when there will be no LOC in Kashmir and the people of the subcontinent will travel across the so-called borders totally freely.” – Dr. Mohan Bhagat
On August 7, 2004, at Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, USA, the Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA) held its first annual “India-Pakistan Peace Day” celebration.
The event was a part of the worldwide campaign ACHA has initiated in recognition of the important link between peace and prosperity and in appreciation of the common history and destiny people of India and Pakistan share. The proposal is that friends of peace hold India-Pakistan Peace Day everywhere some time between August 1 and October 31 each year.
At the Portland observance, about 150 gathered, mostly expatriate Indian and Pakistanis. They were from all different professional backgrounds, both women and men, young and old. Besides speakers on the topic of peace, there were prayers by Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian clerics for peace, and for the victims of the 1947 Partition-related violence, on both sides of the India-Pakistan border. The program also included patriotic songs and national anthems of India and Pakistan, poetry reading, snacks, and bhangra dancing.
The program was climaxed by the presentation of a petition to the governments of India and Pakistan to establish a permanent memorial in honor of those who lost their lives during the 1947 Partition. Dozens of people at the meeting added their signatures to the petition.
The petition urges the two governments to build a suitable monument at the Wagah-Attari Border-crossing, where many Indians and Pakistanis gather every evening to watch the flag-lowering ceremonies.
Hopefully the memorial would also serve as an enduring symbol of peace, and of the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the Indian subcontinent.
People are invited to add their signatures online at www.indiapakistan.org Also this website has printable version of the petition for gathering of signatures at Indian and Pakistani functions.
ACHA was founded at Beaverton, Oregon, in 1993, to promote peace in South Asia and harmony everywhere among South Asians of all ethnic, religious, and regional communities. More information about ACHA is available at www.asiapeace.org
India-Pakistan Peace Day 2004 was celebrated on August 7, at Portland State University's (PSU) Smith Memorial Hall. It was organized by the Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA), together with the Association for India's Development (AID) - Portland Chapter and PSU Institute for Asian Studies. The event was well attended by the local community with over 150 attendees.
The celebration was used to draw attention to the suffering caused by the violence in the aftermath of the Partition of 1947 and the inherent strong bond between the two peoples that persists in spite of those dark memories. Everyone at the event welcomed the recent steps by the governments of India and Pakistan to move beyond the past and improve relations.
The evening began with patriotic songs and the national anthems of Pakistan and India. After welcoming remarks from Dr. Patricia Wetzel and Dr. Gil Latz, speakers such as Dr. Khalid Khan, Dr. Pritam Rohila, Monika Arora and Dr. Bashir Akil talked about their inspiring experiences and their desire for a lasting peace between the two countries. Geeta Pandey, a visiting Psychology lecturer from India, recited a beautiful poem. Prayers for peace were recited by Siri Kirpal Kaur Khalsa, Swami Shanirupananda, Amr Khalifa and Reverend Mark Duntley, followed by bhajans by Hari Bhagats.
The highlight of the evening was the signing of a petition directed at the governments of India and Pakistan to build a suitable peace memorial at the Wagah-Attari border crossing for victims of the violence on both sides of the India-Pakistan border. The petition can be viewed and signed online at www.indiapakistanpeace.org
This was followed by delicious snacks generously provided by a few volunteers and India House, a popular Indian restaurant.
Audience dancing to Indian and Pakistani tunes played by popular Portland DJ Anjali concluded the program.
ACHA was formed in 1993 in Beaverton, Oregon as a non-political organization to promote peace in South Asia, and harmony everywhere among South Asians of all ethnic, religious and regional communities. You can learn more about ACHA at www.asiapeace.org
AID is a voluntary non-profit organization committed to promoting sustainable,
equitable and just development in India, by working with grassroots organizations
and movements. The Portland chapter of AID was founded in 1999. Today,
the chapter has over 24 committed volunteers who actively contribute to
evaluation of project proposals from Indian NGOs, oversight of project
execution, site visits, awareness generation among the local community,
and fund-raising activities. You can learn more about AID at www.aidportland.org