PHENOM PHEN (Cambodia) - Civil society members representing various segments from both sides of the line of control attending a 10-day intra-Kashmir dialogue cum study trip in Cambodia.
Its purpose is to accelerate sincere endeavours for encouraging and promoting efforts for the establishment of ever-lasting and durable peace in South Asia especially in Jammu & Kashmir.
The group of twenty eminent civil society members are travelling through different parts of Cambodia to learn experiences of resilience from the Cambodian people who suffered for three decades since 1970s.
The study tour that includes workshops, interactions with survivors and visits to exemplary civil society institutes is on a short duration fellowship with Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies in Phnom Penh, a Cambodia-based NGO and supported by the Conciliation Resources, (C.R) the London-based international NGO.
Sharing their learning after first leg of tour to Phnom Penh, the participants expressed that Cambodia and Jammu & Kashmir are two entirely different stories but there are enormous commonalities of human sufferings and lessons for moving towards peaceful, progressive and pragmatic society.
"Blessed with intellect and resources we are placed way ahead of many other communities in the world but we need to learn how to make best use of our advantages to reach to the early peaceful resolution of the Kashmir conflict, said one of the participants. He added, "The people of Jammu and Kashmir have been suffering for decades and they are in pain but it is important to shed the load of agony and anguish to step into a future which holds out promise and pride to coming generations".
Participants were mostly of the view that the biggest predicament with the Kashmiris is the lack of a mutually agreed agenda between communities and regions for a shared future.
To address this critical problem, they vowed to avail every available opportunity for enhancing interactions and understandings between various communities including academics, journalists, lawyers, traders, activists of NGOs from either sides and the LoC and regions through whatever channels of communication available to them.
Since the study tour mainly focuses on the issues with gender perspective, the participants regretted a near total absence of women from the political processes in both sides of the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir.
Participants with vast media background stressed on the need of peace journalism and educating communities on the need of making smaller beginnings for healing their wounds instead of waiting for others. They observed that one of the major lessons from Cambodia is about building strengths from inside and providing leadership to others. "Living with a permanent feeling of victim hood will do no good to the Kashmiris", said a senior journalist while speaking in the reflections session.