Prominent members of Pakistan's civil society have condemned last week's Mumbai blasts and have called for an early meeting of President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to keep the peace process going.
The discussion among the human rights and social activists veered round the need to restore democratic rights in Pakistan.
Pakistan-India People's Forum for Peace and Democracy president and Pakistan People's Party (Shaheed Bhutto group) secretary-general Mubashar Hasan said such a meeting should be held after proper preparations so that it could become productive.
Speaking at a seminar on 'Peace in South Asia', organised by the Forum and the United Centre for Peace in Lahore, Hasan said Pakistan and India could become an economic force by joining hands.
He said the two governments had initiated the peace process under public pressure. It was also the duty of civil society to remove hurdles in the peace process.
He said the Mumbai bombings were 'not a simple affair'. Synchronising blasts at seven places and gathering explosives and planting the same at the designated places required skill and organisation.
Hasan said the rulers should also know that terrorists could not survive without the support of the people. They could survive only in societies where relations between the state and the people were not good.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) chairperson Asma Jehangir said a sustainable peace was not possible in Pakistan without giving democratic rights to the people. There was no enmity between the people of Pakistan and India, but the vested interests were raising hurdles in the process.
Jehangir said voices should be raised against the Mumbai blasts. "Killing innocent people could not be described as a movement," Dawn newspaper quoted her as saying.
She said Pakistan had repeatedly been described as a source of terrorism. Those involved were not giving it up despite continuous criticism. It is now high time for the people to ask those in uniform to depart and take terrorism along with them.
HRCP director IA Rahman said those behind the Mumbai blasts were cowards and deserved no mercy. He said the bureaucracy, arms merchants and vested interests of India and Pakistan were trying to sabotage the peace process.
He said that the people should not remain silent over attempts to sabotage the peace process. They should tell their governments that they wanted only peace because wars could not solve problems.
Husain Naqi, a social activist, said peace was the only option left for Pakistan and India after incurring losses owing to hot and cold wars. He said extremists were present in both the countries. The extremists in Pakistan required to be dealt with the support of the people as they were out of state control.
South Asia Partnership director Mohammad Tahseen said there was no justification for postponement of talks because peace was the only viable solution to their problems.