A peace march in Lahore FRIENDS OF SOUTH ASIA (FOSA)
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India-Pakistan Peace Solidarity March, San Francisco, May 15 2005

Statement of Clarification by the Friends of South Asia, on Pakistan American Alliance's co-sponsorship
Friends of South Asia
San Francisco, CA, USA 
Date: June 01, 2005

We, the Friends of South Asia (FOSA) organized a mini peace march in San Francisco on Sunday May 15, 2005. The purpose of the march was to mobilize the South Asian community in the SF Bay Area, and show solidarity with the participants in the India-Pakistan Peace March [New Delhi to Multan, Mar 23 thru May 11], who marched across the subcontinent with the goals of establishing people-to-people contact, negating the tendencies of distrust, hatred and enmity, and spreading the message of peace and harmony. The event in San Francisco was co-sponsored by other allied organizations in the SF Bay Area, who lent their support by participating in the march and by spreading the word about the event amongst their members and well-wishers.

Given that the purpose of the event was to mobilize the community, FOSA welcomed a broad array of organizations that expressed interest in co-sponsoring the event. FOSA felt that it was important to host this event as a broad-based coalition in order to spread the word as widely as possible and to bring a diverse set of organizations who were working on allied causes, into the conversation on India-Pakistan peace.

One of the organizations that lent its name as a co-sponsor of the event was Pakistan American Alliance (PAA). FOSA has had no history of working with PAA, and was not fully aware of PAA’s politics, but considered this request since it was made by a senior member of the PAA, who also happens to be a well-known activist in the SF Bay Area, having worked on civil liberties issues and special registration, and a member of various other peace and justice organizations. This request came less than a week before the event, and hence didn’t allow enough time for the verification of PAA’s credentials – instead FOSA decided to accept the co-sponsorship in good faith.

Since the conclusion of the march, FOSA has become aware of PAA's website, and has developed  serious misgivings about some of the content on this website (http://www.pakalliance.org). FOSA is deeply disturbed by these contents, including pictures currently on the front page, and a report on a rally in New York on Oct 2004.

Very centrally and prominently visible in the picture of the PAA home-page, is a gentleman holding a sign that says: "Allah will destroy the terrorist state of India". This sentence is extremely offensive to FOSA’s members and partner organizations. FOSA also has serious issues with someone claiming either to "know the mind of Allah" or wishing the destruction of a nation that is a sixth of humanity.

The PAA’s report of the Oct 27th rally in New York and associated photographs (as found on their website) has led FOSA to surmise that in the PAA’s opinion, the sole responsibility and blame for the issues in Kashmir rest on the Indian state and its people. FOSA disagrees with this opinion, and believes that, at the very least, there also needs to be a critique of the role played by Pakistani state in fomenting the problem. Having said this, FOSA does respect the right of PAA to have a different political stand on this issue. What it finds most troubling is that the messaging used in the aforementioned rally seems to condone and encourage behavior bordering on hatred.

FOSA wishes to clarify that it has no issues with the mission of PAA and many of their activities as mentioned on their website – these are not in any conflict of interest with FOSA – the primary sources of confusion/misgivings are the PAA’s report of the Oct 27th rally, and associated pictures. FOSA has requested the PAA to provide a clarification on the disturbing content on their website, and to consider removing the offensive material, and is currently awaiting a response. In the meantime, FOSA has chosen to dissociate itself from the PAA, including dropping it from the list of co-sponsors for the solidarity march.

FOSA regrets any misrepresentation that its supporters and fellow-co-sponsoring organizations may have suffered as a result of the PAA’s association with the solidarity march, in light of the disturbing content on their website. FOSA is thankful to its fellow co-sponsoring organizations for their support, and believes that by endorsing this solidarity event, they have endorsed the movement for peace in South Asia, and not the agendas of other co-sponsoring organizations. FOSA wishes to assure its well wishers and supporters that it will exercise greater due diligence when partnering with organizations in the future.

FOSA's Indo-Pak Peace March mainpage

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