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Campaign for  Visa Free SAARC Countries, Chandigarh based NGO initiated the Campaign

CHANDIGARH based Ngo initiated campaign for VISA Free SAARC Countries. Global Youth Peace Forum of Yuvsatta and Peoples Convention Centre launched a ‘Campaign to Enroll 1,00,000 Youngsters in SAARC Countries for Visa Free SAARC’ and also organized a meeting on issue of ‘Indo-Pak Relations in 21st Century’. Prominent amongst those who participated in the endeavour included Saeeda Diep, Founding DirectorInstitute for Peace and Secular studies, Lahore, Harjinder Kaur, former Mayor & Chairperson, Punjab Arts Council, Sanjay Sharma, Sr. Journalist, Avtar Singh Virk, Director, Peoples Convention Centre, Pramod Sharma, Coordinator, Yuvsatta, Reeta Kohli, Addl. Advocate General, Punjab & Mr. Rajender Mohan Kashyap, General Secretary, India-China Friendship Association. The meeting started with a two minute condolence for the bereaved families and victims of ill-fated Russian Airline, which crashed in Egypt. Introducing the campaign Pramod Sharma informed that they have already identified over 15 young change-makers in SAARC Countries with whose collaboration they have started an online and offline campaign for a visa-free one SAARC with an objective to enrol 1,00,000 youngsters in this initiative in next one year. He added that SAARC is a manifestation of the brotherhood among the South Asian nations where almost one-fourth of the world population resides. However, it is quite unfortunate that our borders have become barriers while they must become bridges.

Applauding the efforts Harjinder Kaur added that doing away with visa regime can usher in an era of peace and prosperity in whole of South Asia. Recollecting her visit to Pakistan she said that the kind of affection, warmth of relationship and hospitality which she experienced can’t be explained in words. And it’s her inner desire that this spirit of oneness should reach to all nooks & corner of SAARC region.

Saeeda Diep from Pakistan stated that today in 21st Century civil society in general and youth in particular are not hostage to the bloody past, rather they are demanding a space for intervention in the process of normalization of the relationship between India and Pakistan. No war, no bloodshed and peace at the borders is the first demand.  Scondly, a commitment is needed from both governments that the nuclear button will not be pressed, not now, not ever. Finally, an assurance by all governments is required that South Asia, indeed, the entire world will become nuclear free.

Avtar Singh Virk added that the situation in both countries has thus undergone a sea change. No longer are people willing to be mute witness to their futures being written and unwritten and destroyed by governments. They are not hesitant to stand up to be counted. They are determined to make the world a safe place for their children to grow in.

Concluding the discussion Sanjay Sharma, Sr. Journalist added that it’s time for the young people to demand a social audit of health, education, infrastructure development, social security, for which continuity in contacts is essential for better understanding and removal of misgivings. The differences should be understood and not fought. People of the region shared thousands of years of history, heritage, traditions, but vested interests in SAARC countries have focused on the events of the past six decades only.

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