ASR Conference “Reach for Freedom….Unite”, 7 – 8 April 2007

ASR Resource Centre had arranged a conference “Azadi Agar Chahtay Ho….Mil Kar Chalo”. Two day national conference was held in ASR from 7 – 8 April 2007 in which about 250 people had participated with their families and siblings. This was the second conference in continuation of the project in which a large number of people from Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Kashmir had participated and presented their issues at a larger platform in their own words. The conference was held in ASR office on the roof top and a stage was made for people to come and speak. ASR bored the expenditures of boarding and lodging of the participants.

The field coordinators of ASR who were working in the areas of South Punjab and Sindh on four programmes also participated and mobilized people to come in the conference and spoke on their issues. The four programs include Peace, Women & Land and property rights, Violence against Single Women by Family Members and Minority Rights. The discussions not only included these four issues but the issue of Kashmir, situation of Kashmiri women and Balochistan was also discussed and papers were presented by the participants. The main objective of the conference was to provide a space to people to speak on their issues vocally. Another objective was to collect people of various culture and religion and to give them a chance to share their feelings with each other. The nature of the event was very holistic in terms of having people of cross culture and religion. The most important thing came up from the conference was that over 150 district level activists and families of the activists came together to share their work, their ideas and their demands in this conference which became the core of the next three year program of ASR.

The main topics, which discussed in the sessions, were Kashmir, Kashmiri Woman, provincial autonomy of Balochistan, Gwadar, Woman & Land and property rights, Violence against single woman by family members, Peace and Minorities. The participants included activists from various organizations, working for women’s rights, Human Rights, peace movements, workers, and fisher folks. Intellectuals, writers, journalists and political workers also participated in the conference.

On the night of first day, a cultural night was celebrated with the performance of folk singers from Sindh and South Punjab. The conference got due coverage in the Print Media. It was also instrumental in boosting the morale of the ASR staff and the participants, who attended the conference and working for achieving the common objectives of the Programme. All the people were very happy to come and participate in the conference and exchange their views on various issues with others.