17 November 2011

With two days to go until the 11MSP, ICBL interviewed Raza Shah Khan, ICBL campaigner from the Sustainable Peace and Development Organization (SPADO) in Pakistan. Here Raza talks about landmines in his country and reminds us to think of those affected by this deadly weapon. In the run up to the 11MSP, which is being held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, between 28 November and 2 December 2011, the ICBL is highlighting the amazing work of some of our campaigners from around the world. Read their stories in their own words and how they are working hard to Push For Progress towards a mine free world.

1) When and how did you become involved with the ICBL?

I become involved with the ICBL in 1998 as a campaigner through carrying out awareness and advocacy activities on landmines in Pakistan. This was after seeing the devastating effects of landmines on the people and communities in the tribal belt of Pakistan. Since I come from that tribal area, I later started data collection of victims of landmines who struggled for their rehabilitation. Support by other fellow and likeminded people interested in peace and disarmament led to the establishment of Sustainable Peace and Development Organization (SPADO), which became a ICBL member and victim assistance focal point in 2002.

2) Why did you become involved? Personal experience, inspired by others in the campaign, political or humanitarian interest, or something else entirely?

I become involved with the ICBL due to my personal experience of seeing the negative impact of landmines on the lives of people. I was also inspired by the noble cause and mission of the ICBL.

3) As an ICBL national campaigner how would you like to see states – either your country or others – Push for Progress at the 11MSP?

Coming from a South Asian country where very few countries are party to the Mine Ban Treaty it has always remained my desire to see countries of the region particularly my own country participate and support the Mine Ban Treaty. My personal priority is to work on universalization, as I would like to see all producers and stockpilers become party to the Convention. The 11MSP indeed is the platform where I wish to see State Parties commit to uphold the norms attached to the Convention and that States not Party participate in the meeting and announce their support and willingness to join.

4) What message do you have for anyone out there who isn’t aware of the lethal threat landmines still pose for thousands of civilians every day?

My message for them is to feel the pain of a farmer cultivating the land who is struck by a hidden landmine. People should understand the conditions of innocent civilians, particularly the most poor and marginalized, who have been wounded, lost limbs or lost their lives to landmines. These people were totally unaware that this devastating event was going to happen to them. I want people to imagine the feelings a mother and father have when their child who left for school never comes back because they have fallen prey to one of the world’s brutal weapons. I want everyone to stand against landmines until we reach our goal of a mine-free world!