Proclaiming 2009 as the International Year of Reconciliation is a way of seeking universal reconciliation, on the basis of solidarity, brotherhood and the enshrined values and principles of freedom, justice, peace, non-discrimination, democracy, development and human rights. If we proclaim reconciliation as the path leading to the achievement of world peace, we should say that reconciliation means restoring humanitys lost unity particularly today when human societies are fractured or deeply divided and afflicted by extreme poverty or confronted by territorial or ethnic conflicts. It is impossible to exist without others, and it is always possible to live in peace with others. We proclaim 2009 the International Year of Reconciliation as an initiative that is appropriate for the sphere of international relations and relations between states, nations, peoples, cultures and individuals. Such an exercise requires that we consider forgiveness, truth, justice and mercy, as maintained by the most seasoned experts on peaceful conflict settlement. However, as long as we continue to believe that war is the means to achieve peace, humanity will keep suffering from present ills and others that are even worse. Thus, we will be plunged into darkness and barbarity. Reconciliation results from putting into practice ethics and superior values as opposed to petty interests. It involves making the common good and human dignity the cornerstone of development. Reconciliation means analysis and overcoming the causes of violence and oppression and the origins of the problems and threats facing humanity. It also results from criticizing our own culture and way of thinking, which are inclined to be bellicose or self-centered. Thus, through systematic and practical reconciliation, promoted by states and citizens, we can carry out concrete actions needed in any society in keeping with their history and culture. Reconciliation between states in conflict, between governments and citizens, between genders, between generations, between men and women, between human beings and nature, between religions, ethnic groups and cultures, between the North and South, between developed countries and poor countries without access to technology. That is the essence of reconciliation. -FIDA KARIM, Karachi, October 20.