South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) mourns the death of Shri I. K. Gujral, Former Prime Minister of India and the Founding Chair of SAHR. Shri Gujral made his mark as a global leader and a visionary for peace. An astute politician and a true statesman, he won respect and credibility not only in his own country but globally. He played a significant role in charting a course for better relations between India and Pakistan and his “Gujral Doctrine” has received acclaim and following amongst those sections of the population in both countries that value progress and development.
Shri Gujral’s concern for peace and development applied to the whole of the South Asian region. It was this vision that inspired the creation of SAHR more than a decade ago. Shri Gujral headed and led this initiative and was the first Chairperson of the organization. Under his visionary leadership SAHR was able to contribute towards the development of a regional civil society in South Asia that has strengthened over the years. Shri Gujral demonstrated not only statesmanship but also the ability to relate to civil society and to emphasize its importance as a part of the international community. He was first amongst the South Asian political leaders to recognize the potential of civil society in accelerating the movement towards peace and prosperity.
The members of SAHR in seven countries of South Asia consider it a privilege that this organization and the regional movement that it sponsors were so closely associated with Shri I.K. Gujral. There can be no better tribute to his life and work than the promotion of his vision for regional cooperation on peace, human rights and democratic development. SAHR has lost a great leader and friend, but resolves to take his ideals forward for a stronger South Asia where respect for people’s rights and fundamental freedoms become entrenched as South Asian Values.