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Indo-Pak friendship film bags award

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‘Trading for Peace,’ a film produced by London-based Conciliation Resources, an organisation working to bring peace to Kashmir through trade between India and Pakistan, bagged ‘Positive Collaboration’ award…reports Asian Lite, Best newspaper for the Asian diaspora

Political leaders and traders from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Pakistani side and Jammu and Kashmir (Indian side) hug on the Chakoti Bridge after 60 years of separation
Political leaders and traders from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Pakistani side and Jammu and Kashmir (Indian side) hug on the Chakoti Bridge after 60 years of separation

An initiative to encourage greater interaction and confidence across the Line of Control in Kashmir has been recognised with an industry award. The ‘Trading for peace’ innovation, led by London-based peacebuilding organisation, Conciliation Resources, was captured in a film submitted to Bond’s International Development ‘Positive Collaboration’ award.

The unique initiative has involved working for the past six years, against a backdrop of violent conflict, with local networks of businesspersons, journalists, labourers, academics and civil society on both sides of the Line of Control in Kashmir.

The Governments of India and Pakistan first introduced the idea of trade between the two sides of Kashmir in 2008. Conciliation Resources and partners then began working together to set up the practical infrastructure for this trade, providing impetus to the process and expanding its reach to and ownership by a wider population in Kashmir.

The collaboration has involved all parties working together to facilitate communication across the divide, provide technical expertise to local trade associations and inform governments about the needs on the ground. It has also included taking the beginnings of a Jammu and Kashmir Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, conceived of by the two governments, and developing this into the first ever solid cross Line of Control institution – which is now going from strength to strength.

First truck carrying goods for trade crossing Aman Setu (peace bridge) at Chakoti in October 2008 at the Line of Control fromJammu and Kashmir (Indian side) to Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Pakistani side).
First truck carrying goods for trade crossing Aman Setu (peace bridge) at Chakoti in October 2008 at the Line of Control fromJammu and Kashmir (Indian side) to Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Pakistani side).

Jonathan Cohen, Conciliation Resources’ Acting Executive Director, commented, “We are delighted to accept this award on behalf of all the people who have been involved in this initiative. It provides recognition for the hard-work, commitment, courage and creativity shown by our partners in Kashmir. It also demonstrates the value of sustained efforts to build confidence through practical collaboration thereby contributing to long-term peace.”

This trade is providing tangible economic benefits to both those involved and wider communities along the Line of Control. More importantly though, it is connecting people and building relationships across cultural and physical divides; providing greater security for people living near the Line of Control; and bringing people who are usually excluded, into the broader peace process.

It is also having an impact at a political level, as Conciliation Resources’ South Asia Programme Director, Tahir Aziz, says, “In this highly volatile and inflammatory political context, this trade initiative is evidence of something that is working that both governments can get behind. It is the only positive initiative that has sustained through very strained India-Pakistan relations. It has promoted a different view and generated a different kind of conversation within Kashmir, and shows people what it is possible to achieve”.

The Bond International Development Awards were established to ‘celebrate inspiring development’. Bond’s CEO, Ben Jackson states, “The Bond Positive Collaboration Award recognises effective relationships and collaborations within and across sectors and disciplines. Working in a hugely risky environment, Conciliation Resources has created lasting partnerships from the ground up. This inspiring project has given local people a stake in peace and enabled them to build their own futures through trade and collaboration.”

The film ‘Trading for Peace’ was supported by the EU, Ploughshares Fund and the UK’s Department for International Development.

 

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