The South-Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) has initiated a campaign to build public opinion on both sides of the Indo-Pak border in favour of setting up a “Peace Park” on the zero line at the Attari border.
The proposal is for a 1-km-wide and 18-km-long strip on which people from both sides should be able to hold social and cultural get-togethers and also set up permanent food streets “to bind the people”.
SAFMA secretary general Imtiaz Alam had said at a function in Jalandhar on Friday that he would also speak to the chief ministers of Punjab on both sides, requesting them to take up the proposal with governments at the Centre.
SAFMA's India Chapter secretary general Satish Jacob here said a campaign for the proposal would be initiated, and if it finds support, a formal proposal could be made to the governments of both the countries.
Peace activist Kuldip Nayar too has welcomed the idea, but feels issues like the “hostile gestures” of the border guards at the Retreat ceremony at the Attari-Wagah gates had to be addressed before mooting ideas like the Peace Park or common museums.
Nayar, who has been leading midnight candlelight vigils at Attari on August 14-15 for the past many years, said he too had proposed a joint Indo-Pak museum on the subject of Partition last year.
MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has been campaigning for a visa centre at Amritsar, said a Peace Park could act as a strong catalyst in the peace process.
“Making the Wagah border 'soft' is a major demand of traders in Amritsar, as this would give a boost to the economy,” Sidhu said.
“If there can be consulates in Mumbai and Karachi for traders, then why not one in Amritsar to facilitate the people of the land-locked state of Punjab," he said.
Alam has also proposed a students' exchange programme between universities in the states of Punjab on the two sides.