Pakistan-India Peoples' Forum for Peace and Democracy
Proceedings, Recommendations and Declaration
of The Third Joint Convention
Calcutta, December 28-31, 1996
The Calcutta Declaration
Speech by I.A. Rehman at the inaugural
Inaugural Address by Nirmal Mukarji
Reports of Activities of the
four Joint Committees since the November 1995 Convention, Lahore, Pakistan.
Brief on the discussion on Governance
Brief on the discussion on Kashmir
Brief on the discussion on Religious
Brief on the discussion on Demilitarisation
Reports of Special Session (Open Session)
[Gender, Media, Economic
Development, Trade Unions, Culture,
Human Rights, Democratisation
Group, Professional Group,
Report of the [Concluding] Plenary
The Calcutta Declaration
More than three hundred Pakistanis and Indians met in Calcutta for the Third Convention
of the Pakistan-India Peoples' Forum for Peace and Democracy, formed in September
of 1994. Of the 165 Pakistani delegates present at the convention, from diverse regions
and varied professional backgrounds, 142 had crossed the border by rail and road,
itself a historic event in the 50th years since Independence and Partition.
At the four day convention held between Dec. 28-31, 1996, delegates had intensive
discussions to develop action-plans on four major themes that had been adopted by
the Forum through the Lahore Declaration of September 1994: 1) Demilitarisation,
Denuclearisation and Peace Dividends 2) Religious Intolerance 3) Kashmir and 4) Governance.
They also reviewed their journey through the first fifty years of Independence. Postures
and policies adopted by the two states have deprived the people of the promise of
freedom . Diversion of precious resources to wars and preparation for war, has condemned
millions of people in the two countries to poverty and squalor. This has resulted
in the denial of people's fundamental rights and basic needs like health, education,
On the fourth and final day, the convention endorsed and reiterated the Forum's standpoint
contained in Delhi and Lahore resolutions and unanimously adopted the following in
the Calcutta Declaration.
The most fundamental interest of the people of Pakistan and India, as also of the
South Asian Region as a whole, demands that both countries celebrate the Fiftieth
Anniversary of Independence by taking a solemn pledge to devote the second half century
of freedom, to realizing the shared aspirations of the people for peace, democracy,
justice, tolerance and equal opportunities for all citizens regardless of belief,
ethnicity, gender, and social status.
That in order to realise this objective, the two states must sign, by 14-15th August
1997, a comprehensive treaty providing for the employment of internationally recognised
mechanisms of mutual negotiation, mediation and arbitration for conflict resolution
that could guarantee durable peace.
That the two states must enter into bilateral agreements to ensure the following:
- Free travel across the border
- Free exchange of information and publications and reduction of communication and
- Removal of trade barriers and grant of MFN status to each other.
- That while celebrating the Fiftieth Anniversary of Independence, the people rejoice
in one another's freedom and integrity.
- That the members of the Forum have a historic responsibility to carry out the action
plan adopted at the convention in particular.
Demilitarisation, Denuclearisation and Peace Dividends
The members of the Forum must use all means available to them to persuade their respective
governments to adopt effective Confidence Building Measures, to agree not to use
military capabilities against each other, to stop intermittent firings across the
border, to put an end to proxy wars and to demilitarise Siachin. Both governments
must ensure transparency in their defence budgets. The Forum members should redouble
their efforts to secure an agreement between the two countries to desist >from
nuclear preparations and work for regional disarmament and a nuclear weapon free
world. A public campaign should be launched to ensure that the resources released
by reduction in defence expenditure are devoted exclusively to meeting the peoples'
The convention calls upon the national committees of the Forum to mobilise all groups
and associations concerned with basic freedoms and rights in their respective countries
to secure the objective of genuine participatory democracy; to sponsor and undertake
comparative studies in decentralisation of authority, to facilitate meaningful contacts
between professionals, especially lawyers, farmers, traders, academics, scientists,
physicians, women's activists, and media persons for sharing of experiences and to
help in evolving common strategies to deal with the effects of global shifts in areas
of governance and economy.
The national committees should create national and joint sub-committees to combat
intolerance and prejudice in the following areas: education, specifically the teaching
of history; media and performing arts; state, law and politics; literature and culture.
Priority should be attached to supporting and replicating projects like Communalism
Combat's Khoj removal of prejudice and distortion from history works, cooperation
among media persons, exchange of writers and students, evolution of uniform guarantees
of human rights in laws and codes, relief to persons detained across borders, rights
of migrant labour and promotion of dialogues amongst religious scholars.
The Forum will work toward creating favourable public opinion to make it possible
for the two governments and the people of Kashmir to find a solution to this long
standing problem. The following recommendations are made:
1. The PIPFPD joint committee on Kashmir will hold regular meetings with Kashmiri
leaders on both sides of the LOC. The understanding obtained from these meetings
can be used for recommending future course of action.
2. The joint committee on Kashmir will attempt to organise a meeting where representatives
of Kashmir from both sides of the LOC can come together.
3. Activities will be undertaken which educate people and decision makers about the
facts and real issues about Kashmir and the urgency for resolving the conflict. In
particular it is recommended that a newsletter should be published by the Forum.
The joint committee should also organise meetings with parliamentarians to acquaint
them with issues on Kashmir which concern peoples of India and Pakistan.
Given the lack of gender justice in the legal systems of the two countries, the Forum
decided to formulate a Joint Charter of Egalitarian Principles which will be the
determining factor in civil, religious and personal laws in both countries. It shall
campaign and lobby with the governments and the citizens of the two countries to
commit themselves to this charter.
The third Joint Convention of the Pakistan-India Forum for Peace and Democracy was
held at Calcutta from December 28 to 31, 1996, bringing together more than 300 citizens
of Pakistan and India to discuss a people's agenda which would strengthen the forces
for peace and democracy in the two countries. The Calcutta Convention marked the
transition of the Forum from the closed four walls of seminar halls to the streets.
The vision of building a movement of cross border democracy which inspired a dozen
Indians and Pakistanis who met in Lahore in 1994 to form the Forum, was in Calcutta
two years later, realised.
Down the streets of Calcutta on December 31st, on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary
of Indian and Pakistani independence, after 50 years of the politics of hate and
confrontation, Pakistanis and Indians walked down the streets of Calcutta asserting
with one voice- "Ek Mata:Do Santan, Bharat aur Pakistan".
Calcutta is a city inured to street demonstrations. But what were these 500 Indians
and Pakistanis doing walking arm in arm, asserting "No to war, we want peace"?
Cars stopped, passersby idled, and residents came out in curiosity and lingered to
watch in amazement this exultant group. Sheen Farukh, a delegate from Pakistan, forgot
that she had almost been too tired to join in, as she lustily joined in the chorus,
"We shall overcome", and was overwhelmed when a nearby florist rushed out
with an armful of roses for the Pakistani women delegates.
It was fitting that Calcutta with its anti fascist tradition should be the city for
the first ever public rally by Pakistanis and Indians in the subcontinent. As Tapan
Bose, one of organisers of the Forum observed, "the people of Calcutta had been
among the first in the 30s to come out with a declaration against fascism. In the
40s they protested against the French occupation of Vietnam, port workers and tram
workers unions took a stand against communalism during the partition. And in the
60s the Left in Calcutta campaigned against xenophobia."
As the Chairman of the Pakistan Chapter, Mr. I A Rehman added, "Calcutta has
always been a prominent centre for spawning ideas of peace and democracy. It was
from this city that C R Das and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose made their memorable contributions
to the struggle against colonial rule".
In 1996, the city of Calcutta and its people responded with open hearts to the nearly
200 visiting Pakistanis. The Convention moved them to look hard at the mindset which
has locked the two peoples behind walls of prejudice and hate ideologies. The West
Bengal Chief Minister had set the tone, saying, "if 200 Pakistanis have the
courage to come to India, then the least West Bengal can do is to make them welcome".
Jyoti Basu himself graced a reception given by the Speaker of the West Bengal legislative
assembly and with infinite interest and patience, the Chief Minister met every Pakistani
The Speaker of the West Bengal Assembly, Abdul Halim at the inaugural session enthusiastically
endorsed the need for the peoples of India and Pakistan to be allowed to come closer.
"The Time has come", he said, "to remove the barriers to trade,movement
ofpeople, cultural exchange and even tourism. There are differences. But no military
solution is possible. The first thing is to allow people to talk to each other, and
the Forum is playing an important role in doing this."
Running through the inaugural session was the theme of people contacts pulling down
the walls of prejudice and hate. As Nirmal Mukarji, the Chairperson of the Indian
Chapter of Forum emphasised, for fifty years India and Pakistan have been casting
each other as demons. "The more people come across and see for themselves, the
more they are exposed to each other's writing, the process of demonising the other
will come apart." Taking heart from the tentative moves by the then Indian Foreign
Minister Gujral to ease tension between the two countries, Mr Mukarji urged "Big
Brother India, must not hesitate to make unilateral moves on easing visa restrictions".
And whereas in Lahore the Forum had called for 25% cut in defence spending and deployments,
he appealed at Calcutta for a 40% cut.
Dr Ashok Mitra also took up the theme of demonisation built on the politics of keeping
two generations of Indians and Pakistanis apart."Our challenge is to fight against
state supported prejudice", he said. "How deep that poison has entered
is evident when in Parliament a demand is made for raising defence spending. Always.
It is enthusiastically endorsed because it is seen as an opportunity to give Pakistan
a bloody nose. What is forgotten is the cost of defence spending in terms of human
welfare", he said.
For the Pakistani delegation, with general elections just days away, the mood as
reflected by Mr. I.A. Rehman was somber, and reflective on why the Forum had been
unable to realise the committments made at the two earlier Conventions in Delhi and
Lahore. "Last year had seen the arch conservative forces opposed to India and
Pakistan working together, become most active and constrain the ability of people
to work for peace. In particular the bomb lobby was most active. But the virulence
of the attack by the arch conservative forces shows too the success that the forces
for peace have achieved. Therefore while the difficulties need to be appreciated",
Mr Rahman said, "it should not inhibit us from renewing our resolve".
Mr Rahman made a strong plea of removing the restrictions which prevent ordinary
Indians and Pakistanis from communicating. The elites can telephone each other, but
the poor cannot send to each other even a postcard. The elites can visit by aeroplane,
but the road and rail links are blocked.
The need to persuade the two governments to review the closed road border policy,
inspired the Pakistani delegates to come by road. 145 of them crossed that no man's
land between the Attari and Wagha border posts. A distance which should have not
taken more than quarter of an hour to walk, took five hours to traverse. No information
of an exceptional border crossing had been intimated to the police and it seemed
a touch and go affair. Eventually, they were on board buses bound for Amritsar. Tired
but conscious that they were making history. Road links have been blocked since 1983.
Sheen Farukh, a Pakistani journalist in her personal account of the journey, tossed
off the "hassles by the Punjab police and the railway authorities" and
said "all the fuss was not for the enemies of the past but for the friends of
tommorow. It made us all feel very important".
That week the trains were running 10 to 12 hours late." It's just like in Pakistan",
a trade unionist from Karachi remarked. The journey from Amritsar to Lahore, past
stations whosenames for some one like Brig. Abid Hamid, evoked memories of a not
too distant lived past, while for his young daughter it was a fresh exposure. Sheen
Farukh described her experience of the journey as "I had to get down at Jullandhar
railway station to touch the homeland of my grandparents who were still there, deep
down in the womb of the earth." As for their descendants (Sheen and the others),
they were enjoying themselves back again, eating chana bhatura, sipping tea on the
railway platforms, chatting freely to all". The mutual suspicions forgotten.
Indeed, the Forum's real strength is often its unstructured or rather unplanned agenda,
that is the informal conversations, the unplanned networks which are forged. For
Anir Ban, a journalist from West Bengal, the tea and lunch breaks stood out. "One
had to be there to see how much the people from the two sides of the border wanted
to speak to each other. Squeezing themselves in the corner of a crowded lobby, balancing
the cups of not very hot tea, a teacher from Kerala was eagerly discussing the state
of education in Pakistan with a journalist from Peshawar. A perceptive observer compared
this to a scene from Satyajit Ray's Goopy Gayne Bagha Bayne. Two brothers, Kings
of two states were on the verge of war, met each other and were promptly locked in
a brotherly embrace."
It was during these informal exchanges in Lahore in 1995, that representatives of
organisations of fisherfolk of the two countries met and agreed to work for the welfare
of fishermen and their children languishing in each other's jails because they had
strayed across the international waters. Efforts of the two associations to lobby
their governments had yielded results. At Calcutta,with some satisfaction it could
be said, that the two governments had agreed to adopt the principle of "clean
slate" and release the fishermen, children and the boats.
That the third joint Convention was held in Calcutta, showed that the Forum's roots
were spreading beyond Delhi and Lahore. "Our meeting here is wholly in accord
with our plans to take the message of peace and people's rights to all parts of the
subcontinent", Rehman Sahib said.
Whereas the first two joint conventions in Delhi and Lahore had been against an atmosphere
of extremely jingoistic hate rhetoric, by the time of the Calcutta convention, there
was a decisive shift in the official stance away from the politics of hate to reducing
tension. In February 1995, at the first joint Convention of the Forum, the very process
of 200 Indians and Pakistanis meeting and freely discussing even contentious political
issues like Kashmir, was itself a path breaking event. The second joint convention
in Lahore in November, demonstrated that it was no flash in the pan. In Delhi and
Lahore 200 Indians and Pakistanis had met to discover that they agreed more than
they disagreed even on contentious issues as Kashmir, arms build-up, nuclear weapons,
minority rights and issues of democratic governance.
In Delhi it had taken courage for citizens to cut through the state orthodoxy on
- Kashmir as an integral part of India - or - Kashmir as Pakistan's jugular vein
- to assert that, "Kashmir is not merely a territorial dispute between India
and Pakistan... (and) requires a democratic solution which involves the people of
Jammu and Kashmir". In Lahore it took courage to call for a reduction in force
levels by 25% and to urge governments to prevent cross border support for insurgencies
and proxy wars, to call for India and Pakistan to conclude their own CTBT.
Calcutta was to deepen the formulation of a people's agenda on Governance, Religious
Intolerance, Demilitarization and Kashmir. With the third convention at Calcutta,
the Forum set out to reach out to the masses. It also marked a recognition that while
conventions were important, there had to be a pause to redirect the resources of
the Forum to building up the activities of the joint committees. A special open session
on Fifty Years of India and Pakistan provided a hard look at fifty years of independence
of India and Pakistan. Conscious of the approaching fiftieth anniversary of the independence
of India and Pakistan, the Calcutta declaration called for a comprehensive peace
treaty to usher in a new century of peace. A fervent plea was made to push for freer
movement and exchange of goods and information.
Reflecting the concerns raised at the Forum special open session on Gender--social,
political and cultural resistance of women in India and Pakistan, the Calcutta declaration
calls for gender justice and the formulation of a joint charter of egalitarian principles.
The spirit of the Calcutta convention was best epitomised in the giant charcoal sketch
drawn by the Pakistani cartoonist "FICA" raised aloft by a dozen Indians
and Pakistani delegates as they marched down the streets of Calcutta. These citizens
of the two countries, had come together to work for a common goal--peace and democracy.
It was a bonding which resounded across the huge auditorium of Kalamandir, as Indians
and Pakistanis took up the chorus of Bhupen Hazarika's song with one voice. It was
a bonding that found an enthusiastic echo as Indian and Pakistani artists emotionally
sang, "Though we belong to two geographic entities we are one, our soul is one
and our cultural root is one".
It was a fulsome celebration of two peoples coming together after fifty years of
being kept apart. But amidst the romanticism of those who basked in the glow of a
symbolic lighting of candles on either side of the border, there was the hard reality
of how long and difficult the struggle would be to move towards not only easing tension
but working together to strengthen peace and democracy in the subcontinent. The press
conference at the end of the convention brought home the grim reality of how high
the walls of prejudice still are. Press reporters made an issue of the fact that
India was relaxing its visa regulations and Pakistani artists were performing here
but Indian artists could not go to Pakistan. Mr. Rehman explained that for about
15 years no singer was allowed to peform in public in Pakistan. He said, it will
take time for the restrictions to be relaxed.
Speech by I.A. Rehman
at the inaugural session of the Calcutta Convention
The honorable speaker of the West Bengal Assembly, Mr. Mitra, M.P., Mr. Nirmal Mukerjee,
distinguished citizens of Calcutta and fellow-delegates.
Let me begin by thanking the West bengal Chapter of the Pakistan-India Peoples' Forum
for Peace and Democracy, and its Calcutta branch in particular, for undertaking the
organization of this joint convention, the third since the Forum's launching a little
more than two years ago. The Pakistani delegates do not have words to adequately
thank them for the commitment and diligence with which they have discharged their
heavy task as hosts and for the excellent arrangements they have made. The degree
of support they have been able to secure from a large number of eminent citizens
of this great metropolis is a most encouraging measure of their success. The presence
of the Speaker of the state assembly and the distinguished MP Mr. Mitra at this session,
further reinforces our faith in the validity and the potential of the people-to-people
approach adopted by the Forum.
The fact that we are meeting in Calcutta is significant for more reasons than one.
Our first joint convention was held in New Delhi and the second in Lahore. But neither
is India confined to New Delhi nor is Pakistan confined to Lahore. Our meeting here
is wholly in accord with our plans to take the message of peace and people's rights
to all parts of the subcontinent. One destination on this itinerary is obvious: Calcutta
has always been a prominent breeding centre of ideas of peace and democracy. It was
from this city that C.R. Das and Netaji Subhas Bose made their memorable contributions
to the struggle against colonial rule and countless citizens of this city have continued
their plucky fight for democracy and justice. I have no doubt about the climate here
being congenial to the furtherance of the Forum's session and the outreach to the
Indian masses this venue offers. From the point of view of Pakistani members of the
Forum the record of the past two years contains quite a few achievements. Our convention
in New Delhi proved that despite the well-known hurdles it was possible to set up
a people-to-people dialogue. About a hundred Pakistanis did come to India and had
exchanges with Indian delegates that were both frank and productive. The sceptics
were further proved wrong when Pakistan allowed about a hundred Indian delegates
to meet their Pakistani counterparts in Lahore. The present convention make a considerably
bigger step forward in this direction. The Pakistani contingent here is much larger
than the one that came to Delhi in February 1995. A majority of the delegates travelled
to India by the road route thus persuading the governments of both India and Pakistan
to accept possibilities of reviewing their policies of keeping this border closed
to traffic. We are thankful to the Indian Government for allowing the Pakistani delegates
to visit up to eight cities on non-reporting visas. Apart from the facility afforded
to the delegates, we welcome this gesture as acceptance of one of the Forum's principal
suggestions that the people of India and Pakistan should be allowed to freely visit
While we value the role joint conventions like the present one have made and are
likely to make in future to the process of people-to-people dialogue, we are conscious
of the need to demonstrate that we are equally serious about the other items on our
agenda. At Delhi we successfully drew up basic formulations on the four issues that
we had agreed to address. Wemust concede that the pace of implementation of the proposed
plans have been far from satisfactory for a variety of reasons. The joint committees
do not have much to show for their labours and one of the major tasks before this
convention should be the adoption of appropriate strategies to realise our objectives.
We cannot possibly under-estimate the gigantic nature of the task we have undertaken.
We are asking governments to grow out of their decades old obsession with the concepts
of defence and security on the strength of expensive weapons and now seek security
in good governance, peaceful uses of technology and an order based on social justice.
When we asked for mutually balanced reduction in war-making capabilities of India
and Pakistan we only indicated the first essential step towards demilitarisation.
Likewise, we are asking the governments of India and Pakistan, both of whom have
persisted in merely tinkering with the colonial inheritance, to open themselves up
to modern ideas of participatory democracy and dissolution of authority. The change
will not come about merely by our asking. We have to develop a brief backed by evidence
and argument and inspired solely by considerations of public good, a brief that will
stand in the face of whatever the defenders of the status quo may come up with.
Besides, it is necessary to emphasize the fact that apart from what the Indian and
Pakistani members of the Forum undertake jointly, there is a great deal that they
have to do in their own countries. Our mission is to reconstruct the political discourse
in each country in such a manner that the movement for peace and cooperation between
the sub-continental twins becomes strong enough to cut through the maze of fear and
prejudice that the vested interest in both countries has created. We have to make
a critical appraisal of what we have done and what we plan to do not only in terms
of enlarging the organizational structure of the Forum in our respective countries
but also in terms of their activities' impact on public opinion.
Another factor that underscores the responsibilities of Pakistani and Indian members
of the Forum within their national jurisdictions is the inevitable backlash from
the forces of status quo. I am disclosing no secret when I say that Pakistan has
attracted the attention of quite a few elements who have gathered windfalls by purveying
hatred and consolidating a culture of jingoism. I am sure similar elements mush have
raised their heads and opened their mouths wide in India, too. Since these elements
have acquired strength and a certain degree of credibility because of the history
of confrontation between India and Pakistan and have derived sustenance from official
policies, they should not be expected to easily lay down their arms. However, their
reaction also offers us hope. The panic in their ranks and their tendency to seek
refuge in ideology or other immutable values betrays their lack of confidence in
their own thesis and possibly a fear that they may not be able to compete with us
in the fight for the minds of the common men and women of this benighted sub-continent.
We in Pakistan are sure that except for a small section the people wish for peace
in the region and redress of their long-neglected social, economic and cultural grievances.
I hope the opportunities offered by the convention will be fully utilised for candid
and purposive deliberation on our task, our achievements as well as shortcomings,
and before we disperse we will have with us, besides reinforced faith, workable plans
of action. Before concluding, let me thank again, on behalf of the whole Pakistan
contingent, the citizens of India and Calcutta especially.
by Nirmal Mukarji
Fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen:
I greet you this morning as Chairman of the India Chapter of the Pakistan-India Peoples'
Forum for Peace and Democracy. Also as Co-Chairman of the Third Convention, it is
my pleasure to extend a very warm welcome to all of you. Especially so to those of
you who have come from long distances.
To the delegates and others who have come all the way >from Pakistan I would like
to say a heartfelt Khush Amadeed. Your presence here in such large members is a visible
demonstration of how earnestly the people of your country desire genuine Peace and
true Democracy. I am sure I speak for all the Indians in this gathering in wishing
all of you a happy and enjoyable stay in our country.
It is entirely fitting that the Forum should hold its Third Convention in this great
city of Calcutta. It is the largest of the conventions held till now. There are twice
as many delegates as at the previous meets and they will deliberate for twice as
long as on the previous occasions. Calcutta is known for its unmatched big-heartedness.
Largest convention: biggest hearted city. How very appropriate!
For me personally it is wonderful that the Forum's first convention was held in the
city where I was born, Delhi; the second where my mother was born, Lahore; and the
third here in the land of my fathers.
So, once again, a warm welcome to each one of you.
Friends, you may or may not as yet have seen or read the booklet brought out as a
souvenir for this occasion. I would like to draw your attention to its Foreword where
I have had the temerity to suggest that there is a three-fold challenge before this
At one level, we need to consolidate what we have already done, in terms of the decisions
taken at the previous conventions, but much more so in terms of reviewing the follow-up
action taken, or not taken, on these.
At another level, we need to take note of the major political changes that have taken
place since we last met a year ago in Lahore. There is, after all, a new government
in India and a new dispensation in Pakistan which may result in a new government
there too shortly. Should we not take advantage of these openings and press our cause
more urgently than before?
At still another level, we need to think afresh as to whether Peace means only non-war,
and Democracy only the holding of elections, fair or foul. Should both these magnificent
words, which are the bedrock of this Forum, not be given more positive connotations?
Should Peace,for instance, not go beyond non-war into friendship and cooperation?
Should Democracy, similarly, not break the bounds of electoral ritual and require
two struggles to be waged: one, a struggle against draconian laws and the over-use
of the armed forces to deal with so-called law and order situations; and two, for
a drastic decentralisation of governance so that the people get a chance to rule
themselves rather than distant, uncaring and, sorry to say, often corrupt politicians?
In all humility, I recommend this three-fold challenge for your consideration.
Let me go a little further, and share a few thoughts with you.
At the Delhi convention, we agreed that there should be no resort to war and that
there should be mutual and balanced reduction of conventional forces. At Lahore we
went further. Holding the arms race responsible for diverting scarce resources away
from pressing social needs, we called upon our two governments to negotiate a reduction
of force levels by 25 per cent, simultaneously curtailing military spending.
Neither government responded to our call. Instead, India's new government has decided
to acquire a costly new fleet of warplanes and has recently upped its defence budget.
Pakistan has ignored advice reportedly offered by international financial agencies
to reduce its defence expenditure by 30 per cent.
Meanwhile, going the other way, defence experts on both sides are beginning to favour
proportionate cuts in force levels, provided status quo is maintained on the nuclear
issue. A prominent Indian expert has told me personally that recommending a 25 per
cent cut was not good enough. We should have asked for a 40 per cent cut.
In this situation what should we do? Should we accept that jingoism on both sides
is an unalterable reality, even when we know it is plunging both our countries into
financial bankruptcy and social ruin? Or should we stay firm and look for ways to
get our own agenda on the political drawing boards of both countries?
I believe that there can be no question of our going back. We can only, and must,
go forward. We need to recognise that the stage of talking to each other, as people
to people, and passing resolutions is more or less over. We need now to engage the
political decision-makers in serious discourses.
This Third Convention could well be a turning point at which we move on from - as
the saying goes - `preaching to the already converted' to taking on the establishment.
Why should this Convention not think of appropriate action programmes designed to
break into the decision-making fortresses on both sides?
Let me share a second thought and I will have done. In both our countries demonology
has been at work through the last five decades. Indians have been brainwashed into
thinking of Pakistanis as devils, waiting for a chance to throttle them. I dare say
Pakistanis have been taught to think of Indians in the same way. Demonology is the
perverse product of our striving to become nations in the face of pluralism. Both
India and Pakistan need enemies to bolster their fragile "nationalism".
Therefore, in both countries, threat perceptions areworked out against each other
in ever more frightening terms. Which then leads to ever higher degree of expenditures.
We need to give serious thought to curbing, and eventually eliminating, demonology
in all its forms. Not unless that is done can we have friendship and cooperation.
What promotes demonology is closed frontiers, because the people simply do not know
what lies on the other side. In their ignorance they inhabit the other country with
devils. What we need most of all is to open the frontier between our two countries.
Open it for people to come and go freely and see for themselves that "the other"
is not devils but common people like themselves.
We also need to open the frontier for all kinds of writings, from books to newspapers,
to flow freely both ways. That way those who cannot travel will at least be able
to read about the hitherto dreaded "other" and learn that those whom they
thought were devils are intelligent human beings.
We have passed resolutions in the past about lifting of visa restrictions and the
flow of publications. There is some encouraging news on the visa front. India has
tried to liberalise the issue of visas in a limited way. It is a good beginning.
But matters need to be taken much further.
It is said that India is Big Brother to all its neighbours. True, India is big. But
there are two kinds of big brothers: those who bully and throw their weight about,
and those who view their brothers in a caring manner. I would like to see India act
as a caring big brother. Which in practice should mean India taking unilateral decisions
to lift virtually all visa restrictions and to allow Pakistani writings to come freely
into India. To insist on reciprocity in this vital field is to remain bogged down
I would welcome recommendations being formulated in this Third Convention in specific
terms about what should be done by both countries to open the frontier in these two
respects: people and writings. I am certain that when people in large numbers travel
between our two countries and read each other's writings, there will be a marked
dent in demonology on both sides.
And, let me repeat, Big Brother India should not hesitate to take unilateral initiatives
in this crucially important area.
Friends, on your behalf as well as on my own I want to say a big `thank you' to all
those who have worked so hard and with such dedication to make it possible for us
to meet together. Organising such a large convention is not at all easy. All credit,
therefore, to the devoted band of workers, here in Calcutta and also in Delhi.
I also want to say `thank you very much' to the Hon'ble Jyoti Basu, Chief Minister
of West Bengal, to Shri Budhhadeb Bhattacharya, the State Home Minister and to all
the functionaries of the West Bengal government who have extended their help and
cooperation in many ways.
To all those who have contributed in cash or kind, this bhikshu would like to say
Lastly, my fellow delegates, I wish you joy in your deliberations. My request to
you is: please discuss freely, but at the end come to clearcut conclusions and recommendations.
I thank you for listening to me so patiently.
Reports of Activities
of the four Joint Committees since the November 1995 Convention, Lahore, Pakistan.
Nafis Ghaznavi (Pakistan)
Review Reports were presented by the four sub-committees, separately by their India
and Pakistan Chapter, on what activities had been undertaken as follow-up to the
Lahore Convention, November 1995.
3. Religious Intolerance
The delegates expressed their views on the reports and also various other topics
that impinged upon them.
Riaz Ahmed Rashid said that only true democracy can bring about good governance.
The colonial way of governance has continued and still pervades our policy and our
state apparatus. Our police and state should protect that independence and rule of
law. Prejudice and bigotry were the main culprits for religious intolerance in society.
Kashmir he felt has become an international issue. People of Kashmir should be free
to decide for themselves through democratic means.
Teesta Setalvad wanted the Forum to broader its membership by including students,
women and people from the rural areas. She expressed unhappiness with the Committees'
reports since they noted that the job had not been done well and had presented the
same ideas as had been presented at the Lahore Conference. There was nothing new
in the current reports.
Subhendu Dasgupta requested the participants not to limit the demilitarisation discussions
to reducing the defence budget. He also wanted the Forum to work for a passive border
agreement between India and Pakistan as has been done between India and Nepal.
Shakil Ahmad said that various aspects of the Kashmir issue should be highlighted
through the media particularly the electronic media.
Beetesh Sharma said that Pakistan and India should allow freedom of expression on
religion and religious issues. He felt that social justice has been largely ignored
in both the countries, while humanism has suffered at the hands of religious intolerance.
He also requested that Forum material and literature be made available in the various
regional languages of India and Pakistan.
Dhiren Banerjea was pessimistic about the solution of the Kashmir issue as he felt
that no country or party had the courage to accept a change in the present status
quo. He also said that Kashmir should also include the Northern territories and other
areas which historically were a part of Kashmir.
Col. B.S.Sekhon (retd) quoted from Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Amrita Pritam's poetry to
illustrate the similarity in their poetic sentiments. He said that corrupt governments
cannot resolve the problems between the two countries. Only good, honest governments
can tackle the issues.
Ishtiaq Ahmed said that true democracy and good governance can enhance the progress
of society. He advocated an Asian Charter of Human Rights for which the UN Bill of
Rights and UN Covenants on Human Rights can be used as guiding principles. He felt
that this can then lead to good governance.
Rochi Ram said that extremists of all religions have sown the seeds of religious
intolerance. Now we have to work with similar zeal (as the extremists had done),
to undo the wrongs and spread the message of love, harmony and tolerance. He pointed
out that intolerance is taught at schools in Pakistan when distorted lessons of history
and culture are presented. He wanted that each place of worship be run according
to the religious practice. He said that we should have participatory democracy in
which the voters be able to hold accountable those they elect.
M.B.Naqvi proposed that the threat of a nuclear war in Asia was very real and we
should work towards eliminating this ominous threat.
M.H.Qureshi wanted that Religious Intolerance be changed to Religious Tolerance.
He said that religion in India and Pakistan was very close to the people. We should
counter the hate messages of Pundits and Mullahs by popularising the positive message
of love, harmony and peace of the various religions.
Shafiqa Farhat, said that during her work she found that the people of India and
Pakistan want peace and love. Historians of the two countries should record history
truthfully and honestly and not distort it as has been done in the past.
Father T.K.John wanted the idea of tolerance be taught in schools during the formative
years. He said that humanism and human rights should be made part of the teaching
curriculum to develop a new culture of tolerance.
Chaudhry Haneef Ahmad Dagar said that democracy and peace were issues that affected
the common people of India and Pakistan, the elite of the two countries were not
concerned with democracy and peace. In our countries the main problems are poverty,
illiteracy, unemployment, homelessness, police excesses, denial of justice, etc.
Ata-ur-Rehman urged India and Pakistan to resolve their problems bilaterally and
peacefully as India and Bangladesh have resolved the issue of the Farrakka Dam.
Keshav Rao Jadhav put forward the idea that Kashmir may be governed collectively
by allthree parties, India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir.
B.M.Kutty urged the Forum to work towards bringing the issues that exist between
India and Pakistan to the peoples' level; only then can these issues be resolved.
He said that various organisations, like the trade unions of the two countries, should
get together and discuss the issues. In this regard he pointed out that the recent
agreement between the business and industry federations of India and Pakistan was
a healthy development. He also gave details of the efforts made by the trade unions
to get the imprisoned fishermen of the two countries released.
Sumit Chakravarty said that the Indian delegates should raise their voices against
the excesses of the Indian army and police in Kashmir, while condemning the intrusion
of militants from across the border. He said that the Forum should arrange a goodwill
march on August 14 1997, >from Amritsar to Wagah on the occasion of Pakistan independence
day and a similar walk on August 15 from Lahore to Wagah to celebrate the Indian
Haroon Ahmed said that the four subjects have been discussed at length in Delhi and
Lahore. What was needed now was an action plan to follow-up on the Forum's recommendations.
Tahir Mohammed Khan said that recommendations and resolutions should be circulated
earlier so that delegates can put forward their suggestions in time.
Brief on the
discussion on Governance
Abid Hasan Minto (Pakistan)
Gautam Navlakha (India)
Salil Biswas (India)
Saqlain Imam (Pakistan)
The meeting focused on the adverse fallout of feudalism and its culture upon the
poor societies of South Asia and underlined the need for decentralisation of governance.
The states that came into being after August 1947 retained their colonial style of
governance with a strong central government that required military or para-military
organisations to control the law and order situation. This also led to militarisation
of the societies and authoritarian form of government. Therefore, decentralisation
of governance is considered an important step to demilitarise the societies and strengthen
democracy in the region.
The attempts towards improving mutual relations cannot be realised unless extraneous
factors such as internal militarisation, whose lethal effects have eroded the economic
sovereignty of Pakistan and India, are opposed. Structural adjustment programmes
touted by the IMF and the World Bank have led to skyrocketing of the cost of living
as well as cost of production-- which is a serious setback to the efforts for liberalisation
of trade between the nations of South Asia.
The strong traditional and cultural bonds between the two countries need to be explored
for co-operation and for removing wrong impressions about each other. Children are
bearers of the future. They must be saved from falling into the pit of ignorance
and hatred. This can only be done through informal contacts with children living
in the other country.
Summary of the Discussion
The Committee on Governance began its discussion with a point raised by some participants
on the first day in the delegates' session after the Inaugural Session of the Third
Convention of the Pakistan-India Peoples' Forum for Peace and Democracy in which
they had proposed the change of the name of the Committee. However, since the gentlemen
who had raised this point did not turn up, the chair agreeing with other participants,
ruled that the nomenclature of this Committee should be retained.
It was observed that nothing has changed substantially since the last Convention
in Pakistan with regard to governance and decentralization in the two countries,
although regional peace is a direct result of democracy within the countries. The
use of military and the legislation of draconian laws militarises society which results
in atrocities and extra-judicial killings. In fact governments create an enemy to
shift their responsibility for internal problems toexternal factors.
There ensued a discussion on the issue of democratization. Some felt that there cannot
be a monolithic democratic order for the people of this region because they have
different histories and there is need to be tolerant of different concepts or practices
of democracy. Others said that we neither had the socio-economic conditions nor the
proper political institutions which are necessary for a democratic order. Therefore
our concept of democratization must incorporate specific socio-economic factors.
Yet others put forward the view that both countries have inherited British colonial
setup and still had semi-colonial type of democracy. Effects of the dictates of the
IMF & World Bank on people was referred to. A great deal of emphasis was laid
on learning >from each other's experience such as land reforms, panchayati system
etc. as well as from our struggle against internal militarisation.
Resolutions on Governance
1. In pursuance of, and to implement the Resolution No. 2 of the Delhi Convention,
1994, this Convention declares that the decentralisation of power must be accompanied
with democratic reforms and anti-colonial and anti-feudal socio-economic changes
so that effective and meaningful rule of law and protection of minority rights can
2. Without prejudice to any other Resolution, recommendation or project in progress
in the Forum, with regard to decentralisation and federalisation, this Convention
suggests that the Forum, its two National Committees in their respective countries,
and its members, individually or collectively, should approach all civil liberty
groups, human rights activists and organisations, political parties and other concerned
groups to agitate against the incidents and issues where minority rights are violated,
or fascist tendencies manifest themselves as a result of over-centralisation;
3. Without prejudice to anything contained in the Resolutions adopted by the earlier
two Conventions at Lahore and Delhi in 1995, this Convention assigns the two National
Committees of the Forum tasks to organise comparative studies on decentralisation
for the benefit of the people, as well as formulating recommendations for their respective
countries in accordance with their local conditions;
4. In pursuance of, and to implement the Resolution No. 7 of the Lahore Convention,
1995, this Convention suggests that the two National Committees of the Forum should
establish Clearing Houses equipped with modern communication facilities at their
respective offices as soon as possible and at the chapters' level, if possible, for
the purpose of computing and exchanging information of the instances of internal
militarisation and opposition to them, as also to highlight common concerns for the
welfare of the people. This Convention further suggests in this regard that the two
National Committees of the Forum should plan sustained action programmes to follow
up the activities pertaining to civil liberties and other objectives of the Forum;
5. Reiterating Resolution No. 3 of the Delhi Convention, this Convention amends it
by inserting the words "and political parties" in it after "both governments"
andauthorises the two Chairpersons of the Forum to write joint letters to the heads
of government and political parties to inform them of the activities and the objectives
of the Forum, and, as the situation may require, to draw their attention towards
the actions, statements, publications or any other acts of provocation which are
detrimental to the interests of people, peace and democracy;
6. In pursuance of Resolution No. 6 of the Lahore Convention and Resolution No. 3,
5 and 6 of the Delhi Convention, this Convention urges various chapters of the Forum
in the two countries to set up permanent sub-committees to arrange regular cultural
exchanges in their respective regional languages and to set up translation bureaus.
They should also explore and set up regular channels of communication, organise book
fairs, art exhibitions, theatrical and musical activities, and joint workshops in
related areas, press for free and legal exchange of journals, books and newspapers
as well as exchange of students and academics;
7. This Convention resolves that it is necessary to disseminate the message of Pakistan-India
amity among the younger generations, specially among children at all levels, taking
the example of KHOJ and AMAN programmes in Bombay and the observance of Pakistan
Day on 15th August in Calcutta by the Bengal Chapter of the Forum, and arrange for
guided visits of children to each others countries;
8. Reiterating, and in pursuance of Resolution No. 7(19) of the Lahore Convention
and Resolution No. 5 of the Delhi Convention, this Convention while commending the
act of granting of non-reporting visas to 200 people from Pakistan to visit eight
cities in India, demands of the two governments of Pakistan and India, as another
step forward, that children of upto 15 years old and senior citizens 60 or above
be granted non-reporting visas, and the condition of proving the existence of a relative
in the other country while applying for visa be dropped immediately;
9. Reiterating Resolution No. 7 (10 to 11) of the Lahore Convention and Resolution
No. 6 of the Delhi Convention this Convention calls upon the two governments of Pakistan
and India to extend Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to each other, and move towards
granting preferential access to the products and services from the SAPTA framework
by 1998, in order to avail the opportunities of substantial economic benefit for
the people through regional division of labour based on their respective comparative
advantages, in order to strengthen capacity of the two nations to resist the erosion
of their economic sovereignty under pressure from various international multilateral
agencies such as World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) dominated by the
interest groups of the advanced capitalist economies;
10. This Convention expresses its serious concern over the current situation of the
outlays in the fiscal policies of the two countries in which the debt servicing is
increasing at a galloping pace, sapping the potential of growth and rendering a number
of youth unemployed; it also expresses its fear that peace dividends likely to accrue
in future due to cut in defence expenditure would be used for foreign debt servicing
instead of diverting them to social and economic sectors for development;
11. Since the officials of the IMF and the World Bank have asserted that `Structural
Adjustment' and democracy are incompatible in Pakistan (and presumably everywhere
else) and having understood that their conditionalities are increasing the cost of
production in Pakistan currently rendering its manufacturing sector (in particular)
non-competitive, which is a major factor making Pakistani small-and medium-sized
manufacturers and their employees vehemently oppose liberal trade with India, this
Convention, believing in democracy, calls upon the international multilateral agencies
to immediately hold negotiations with the governments of Pakistan and India for an
arrangement of debt moratorium provided the governments agree to divert their resources
to social sectors development that will enable the people to promote peace and democracy
in the region;
12. Whereas the incentives offered to foreign investors by the two governments (such
as `tax holidays' and `no labour laws') to attract them to their own respective countries
have adversely affected not only the indigenous capitalist, but also workers, this
Convention urges the two governments of Pakistan and India to take necessary measures
to safeguard the interests of the nationalist capitalists vis-a-vis multinational
corporations (MNCs), and implement all labour laws and conventions in the two countries;
13. In order to clear the situation and remove confusion, this Convention declares
that all resolutions adopted by the Lahore Convention and the Delhi Convention stand
valid, and that individuals and groups should take steps on their own acting under
the aegis of the Forum to implement the Resolutions and other decisions of the Forum
by all means available to them.
Brief on the discussion
Mubashir Hasan (Pakistan)
Tapan Bose (India)
Dinesh Mohan (India
Syed GB Shah Bokhari (Pakistan)
Summary of the Discussion
Approximately sixty persons attended the session. The discussion began with a reiteration
of the Forum's position that the two governments should recognise that Kashmir is
not merely a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan but concerns the lives
and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of the Line Of Control
(LOC). It was emphasized that the Forum cannot go back on this position and we must
not reopen old issues, but we should face the problems which exist today and chalk
out concrete positive action programmes for the Forum.
There was a consensus that the people of India and Pakistan want a peaceful coexistence.
It was felt that unlike the people, the governments of the two countries and political
leaders want to keep the Kashmir issue alive to give legitimacy to their holding
on to power.
Non-resolution of the Kashmir issue has caused immense suffering to the peoples of
India, Pakistan and Kashmir, directly and indirectly. The existence of armed forces
of India and Pakistan in the Kashmir region creates difficulty for the people of
Kashmir. In addition, the expenditure on militarisation in the two countries causes
unnecessary burden on the exchequer of both countries and denies people their rights
to food, health and education.
The participants emphasized that the Forum should work toward creating a favourable
public opinion to make it possible for the two governments and the people of Kashmir
to find a solution to this long standing problem.
Recommendations on Kashmir
1. The PIFPD Joint Committee on Kashmir should hold regular meetings with Kashmiri
leaders on both sides of the LOC. The understanding obtained from these meetings
can be used for recommending future course of action.
2. Activities should be undertaken which educate people and decision makers about
the facts and real issues about Kashmir and the urgency for resolving the conflict.
In particular, it was recommended that we could publish a newsletter, monographs
and articles in newspapers. The Joint Committee could also organise meetings with
members of parliament.
3. The joint committee on Kashmir should attempt to organise a meeting between representatives
of Kashmir from both sides of the LOC.
4. The Forum should continue to exert pressure on both governments to sign agreements
on other issues like freedom of movement of the people, exchange of publications
and trade between the two countries. This should help in reducing tension so that
it becomes possible to discuss Kashmir in a more cordial atmosphere.
Brief on the discussion
on Religious Intolerance
Manoranjan Mohanty (India)
Kamran Ahmad (Pakistan)
Rao Abid Hameed (Pakistan)
Syeda Hameed (India)
Summary of the Discussion
The group on Religious Intolerance comprised seventy participants. A general discussion
preceded the sub group division (See Appendix II). The following points were made:
1. So far too much time has been spent on talking and discussion with no practical
work. If we wish to succeed in our mission then it is essential that during the current
convention the committee lays down realistic goals which can be achieved before the
next convention. Tendency to be over ambitious should be avoided.
2. In order to work systematically and effectively the committee should be split
into five sub-committees which would be responsible for making specific recommendations
pertaining to their sphere of activity. The sub-committees would be:
a. Education and History
b. Media and Performing Arts
c. State, Law and Politics
3. A project like "Khoj" initiated by Communalism Combat should be supported
and replicated in the two countries. This is likely to develop understanding and
respect for all religions and people in the minds of the younger generation. Members
should suggest the necessary details, names of schools which may like to participate
in this project, and can give the details to Teesta Setalvad.
4. Sub-committees on Education and History shall examine the text books in detail
and identify the books which condemn, ridicule or distort other religions, beliefs
or history. In Pakistan an eminent historian Mr. K.K. Aziz has already published
a book which contains the details of the offensive portions. If a similar work has
not been done in India then it should be undertaken now.
5. If the committee and the sub-committees are unable to meet, then they must keep
in touch through various means of communication available. The coordinators at various
levels must keep in touch with the members and monitor their activities.
6. All members and particularly members of the committee must identify and condemn
through media films which promote all forms of intolerance. Similarly films and other
media which encourage tolerance, peace and harmony need to be encouraged and applauded.
7. Media Watch Groups should be formed in the two countries to monitor activities
and take collective measures.
8. Business houses, organisations and others who believe in tolerance and improving
relations between India and Pakistan should be encouraged to sponsor and support
activities (theatre, films, television, sports) and events which would help in achieving
the goals of the committee.
9. A movement should be built to make the two countries reduce the restrictions on
travel and obtaining of visas.
10. Restrictions on exchange of written materials should be removed.
11. Plays, theatre and other programmes aimed at achieving our objectives should
be freely exchanged.
12. Comprehensive guidelines for the media should be formulated and they be requested
to follow it.
13. The possibility of setting up Video Clubs for exchanging appropriate programmes
should be examined.
14. Members of the Forum must themselves follow its philosophy and become good role
models. Then the message should be spread in the mohalla, local community and beyond.
15. Members must carefully read the proceedings and recommendations of all conventions.
16. There should be exchange of scholars, educationists and students between the
17. The possibility of organising summer camps for students in the eighteen to twenty
age groups should be examined.
18. Both countries should ensure freedom of press and work towards ensuring respect
for the copyright laws.
19. Quota System is beneficial for the minorities and needs to be retained. Minorities
should be given their due share in all services, particularly armed forces and all
other law enforcement agencies.
20. Practices which discriminate against minorities should be exposed and efforts
should be made that these be eliminated.
21. A close and constant watch should be kept on the state of minorities in the two
countries. A report on the state of minorities would be presented at the next convention.
22. Sporting competitions presently tend to give impetus to intolerance. Therefore,
to begin with, combined Indo-Pak teams should be formed.
Recommendations on Religious Intolerance
Five individuals were identified as link persons for the year's activities and programme
in the five areas -- Education and History; Media and Performing arts; State, Law
and politics; Literature; Culture. These are :
1. Teesta Setalvad, Bombay
2. Ratnabali Chatterjee, Calcutta
3. Fauzia Saeed, Islamabad
4. Mohammad Mushtaq, Lahore
5. Father T K John, New Delhi
The following plan of work was chalked out :
a. Four nodal centres will work in Calcutta, Bombay, Islamabad and Lahore.
b. With reference to the programmes "Khoj" and "Aman" it was
resolved to network with other centres and replicate the programmes in different
parts of India and Pakistan. The five key persons will be responsible in these centres.
c. Efforts will be made to translate secular writings at the primary level in Pakistan
and India which demonstrate unity between the two countries.
d. Attempt will be made to develop exchange programmes for children of the two countries.
It is expected that such programmes will dispel distortion of history and develop
a healthy mindset for citizens of the future. Initiative in this regard will be taken
by M. R. Goel (Rajasthan).
e. Research will focus on wherever biases exist in the historical texts of both countries.
Initiative in this regard will be taken by M. K. Siddiqui.
f. Attempts will be made to publish more texts which are free from distortion, right
from school to the university level. Suraiya Amnuddin will locate such distorted
texts in Pakistan and endeavour to disseminate distortion-free texts.
g. To identify syncretic cultural trends in history, a group of scholars from Calcutta
- Prof Ratnabali Chatterjee, Dr. Lipi Ghosh and Dr Paula Banerjee will work on creating
new stories of popular culture.
h. To affect changes in syllabus, certain lobby groups will work at the governmental
level. Regional key persons, named above, will take the initiative.
i. Resource materials will be collected and disseminated among NGOs to develop resource
centres. Regional key persons are responsible.
j. Publication of small booklets about national heroes of each others countries.
Initiative to be taken by Shuba Ranjan Dasgupta.
k. E-mail addresses will be used for dissemination of information.
l. Funding for the above activities will be explored at the state and the national
a. To re-publish and propagate the Nehru-Liaqat Pact on Minorities. Further, pressure
should be exerted on both governments with respect to the letter and spirit of the
Pact. Work to be initiated by Tahir Mohammad Khan and N. D. Sharma.
b. To undertake the documentation of laws, policies and covert advice issued by government
departments which discriminate against minorities, as well as laws which deprive
particular sections or citizens of their fundamental rights and to publicise the
findings. Work to be initiated by Mrs Ashraf Abbas (Pakistan), Mohd. Tajuddin (India).
c. As and when open violation of minority rights takes place, notice to be taken
of it and appropriate action be initiated, like going to court on behalf of victims
against the misuse of emergency laws by security agencies. Initiators: Tahir Mohd
Khan (Pakistan), H. S. Doel (India), Mr. Sharma (India)
d. To monitor the process of criminalization of politics, as also the election manifestoes
and campaigns of political parties. Also to identify prejudicial provisions and enlist
the cooperation of NGOs working on these issues. Initiators: Mr. Sharma (India),
B. M. Kutty (Pakistan), and A. A. Engineer, Soli Sorabjee, Rajiv Dhawan (all three
India, by consent, suggested by Teesta Setalvad).
e. To monitor the role of political parties in the two countries, in promoting religious
and sectarian tolerance.
f. To find out the views of the common citizens. Initiators: Moitri Chatterji (India),
Bela Bannerjee (India), Nadeem Qayyum (Pakistan).
The following contact persons were identified:
Fauzia Saeed (Pakistan)
Anirban Chattopadhyay (India)
It was agreed that the media persons sitting in other groups should all be identified
and included in this joint initiative.
a. Positive and negative examples of communalism which are projected in the media
presentations in both countries should be collected.
b. Exchange of films should be attempted. As a start three films should be exchanged
in 1997. Initiators: Anand Patvardhan (India), Fauzia Saeed (Pakistan).
c. On a monthly basis clippings from 20 Indian and 20 Pakistani newspapers and magazines
should be taken and exchanged. Lead persons in Pakistan and India respectively be
responsible for further dissemination of both. Fauzia Saeed (Pakistan), Teesta Setalvad
d. Exchange of positive articles written by journalists of both countries and attempt
to get them published in mainstream newspapers as well as in vernacular media. Initiators:
Fauzia Saeed, Aimal Khan (Pakistan); Meghnath, Anirban (India).
e. Explore the possibility of getting an advertisement for the Forum on a satellite
channel. Initiator: Harsh Kapoor (India).
f. Video documentation of the next Forum and preparation of a candid programme based
on spot reactions . Initiators: Anand Patvardhan, Harsh Kapoor (India).
g. Developing materials/code of ethics sheets to facilitate lobbying with media against
the use of language and associations which reinforce stereotypes that promote communalism.
Initiators: Teesta Setalvad, Sumit Chakraborty (India), Kamran Ahmed (Pakistan).
h. Exploring the option of a film festival on communal/sectarian issues. Initiators:
Anand Patvardhan (India), Fauzia Saeed (Pakistan).
M.H. Qureshi (India)
a. To organise seminars of groups of historians and experts on religious and cultural
studies in order to identify the areas of misinformation about religion. Further
to attempt to demystify superstitious practices and lay emphasis on positive resources
in different religions. Findings to be published in the form of simply written booklets
in several regional languages. NGOs may be requested to disseminate these booklets.
b. To exchange news items and information about resistance to fundamentalist forces
and communal propaganda by various groups in both India and Pakistan.
c. To interview players who have played joint cricket matches and others who appreciate
such efforts, publish such interviews in regional languages and try for transmission
by T.V. and other media.
d. To preserve architectural monuments in both countries.
Kausar Javaid (Pakistan).
This sub-committee defined its primary aim-- to publish by the next convention a
literary anthology on religious tolerance in Pakistan and India.
Editors Ahmed Salim (Pakistan), Divikumar (India).
a. Exchange of books on religious harmony.
b. Publication of articles on religious harmony.
c. Freedom of speech and writing on the subject of religious intolerance in both
on the discussion on Demilitarisation and Denuclearisation
Haroon Ahmed (Pakistan)
Rita Manchanda (India)
Shimreichon Luithui (India)
Syed Mazhar Zaidi (Pakistan)
The Session was attended by over thirty five delegates.
It was decided that the group will be called Demilitarisation, Denuclearisation and
Peace Dividends. It was urged that the issue of demilitarisation should be looked
at in the context of half a century of experience of both countries and the current
onslaught of globalisation. It was emphasized that savings accrued from demilitarisation
should be diverted to clearly defined social sectors.
There was a debate on clarifying the difference between military expenditure and
military capabilities. During the ensuing discussion on CTBT, it was proposed that
both the countries should have their own agreement on the lines of the CTBT. One
of the participants reminded the group that there was a provision in the Simla Agreement
which allowed for settlement of issues bilaterally.
Summary of Discussion
Confidence Building Measures
All the participants agreed that confidence building measures are essential in creating
an amicable environment. They gave the following suggestions:
1. Pressurizing government to stop declaring defence days as public holidays, holding
of parades, use of satellites for war-mongering, telecasting war songs.
2. Launching of signature campaigns by each chapter and translation of the declarations
into regional languages.
3. Holding melas at temporarily vacated areas around the borders so that people from
both the sides can interact.
4. Celebrating demilitarisation days on 14 and 15th August.
5. Contacting all political parties who support demilitarisation.
Conventional Force Reduction
1. It was suggested that mutual pull-back on Siachin Glacier can be a meeting point
in conventional force reduction. It will also serve as CBM.
2. The participants called for stoppage of deployment of weapons. There was unanimous
emphasis on `no first use' and `no threat of use' of conventional arms under any
The participants agreed on the following:
1. Both India and Pakistan should support all the international efforts for a nuclear
2. Both countries should reach a bilateral agreement on the issue.
3. Arrangements should be made for mutual cooperation among experts and scientists.
A number of participants felt that recommendations should not just be for the governments.
The participants should also work towards their implementation.
Resolutions on Demilitarisation and Denuclearisation
i) On the fiftieth anniversary of the independence of India and Pakistan, the crushing
economic burden of the arms race in the subcontinent has drained scarce resources
from urgent social spending and resulted in the militarisation of civil society.
The Calcutta Convention, therefore, reiterates the appeal made in Lahore, urging
the governments of India and Pakistan to work for mutual reduction of force levels
and war waging capabilities by 25 % over a three year period, simultaneously curtailing
ii) To strengthen Confidence Building Measures, the governments of India and Pakistan
a) Must agree to non-use of military capabilities against each other.
b) Must stop the shooting war between India and Pakistan on the border.
c) Should agree to preventing cross border support for insurgencies and proxy wars.
d) Pull back from areas of close confrontation.
e) Siachin should be demilitarized.
f) Pull back heavy weapons to mutually accepted areas.
g) Military exercises of both countries should be open to observers from either country.
h) There should be a joint dialogue before the acquisition of major military systems.
i) Transparency is urged in the functioning of the defence establishment.
2. Peace Dividends
i) Transparency is urged in the defence budgets of the two countries.
ii) India and Pakistan to prepare studies on the actual opportunity costs of military
spending within the context of the subcontinent i.e. money spent on a nuclear bomb
could fund so many schools. These studies should be disseminated widely to build
i) The recent spurt in the pro-nuclear propaganda in India and Pakistan has made
it more urgent to reaffirm that both countries should restrain >from nuclear preparations,
move towards regional disarmament and work for a nuclear weapon free world. Insofar
as South Asia is concerned, the Forum calls upon the governments of India and Pakistan
a) To strongly support and work together to promote all international efforts to
achieve a nuclear weapons free world.
b) To conclude a bilateral agreement not to explode or test any nuclear device whatsoever.
c) Not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons/capability against each other under
d) To establish a dialogue between strategic thinkers on both sides to discuss ways
and means of reducing and eliminating the nuclear capabilities of India and Pakistan.
e) Jointly address the issues of fissile materials ban for nuclear weapons development
and production with a view to adopting a common position which will further global
f) To agree to withdraw the deployment of nuclear capable missiles, especially country
specific, and to work out a bilateral missile control.
4. Endorsing the Lahore Resolution on the adverse effects of foreign and domestic
policies of a militaristic nature on the daily life of citizens as reflected in the
growth of a culture of violence and aggressive communalised nationalism, a distorted
model of masculinity and an increasing sense of insecurity, it was recommended that
The governments of India and Pakistan not celebrate Defence Days or the militaristic
aspects of Vijay Divas.
5. Mass Mobilisation Campaign - Citizens' Initiative
i) All avenues of mass contact should be used like film, theatre, mushairas, print
media, books and pamphlets to carry the message to the people.
ii) Parallel celebrations should be organised on August 14 and 15, 1997 in both countries.
Efforts should be made to organise events in as many cities as possible. Peace marches
to be organised to meet at the border.
iii) Signature campaign should be organised to be completed in Pakistan and India
by August 14 and 15 respectively.
iv) Children were identified as a special target group for a pro-peace campaign through
v) All peace activities in the two countries should be documented and published by
the respective chapters in the two countries.
Reports of Special Session
Gender (Social, Political and Cultural Resistance of Women
in India and Pakistan)
Zarina Salamat (Pakistan)
Neera Adarkar (India)
Fauzia Saeed (Pakistan)
Malini Bhattacharya (India)
Sadaffe Abid Rao (Pakistan)
Kavita Panjabi (India)
The Session was attended by approximately three hundred people. Three broad areas
were covered in this session: militarisation and state violence against women; cross-national
trafficking in women; women against communalism, cultural resistance and gender just
Summary of the Discussion
The critique of militarisation raised crucial points from a gender perspective. It
emphasised that militarisation and nuclear proliferation took place at the expense
of much needed development in the social sector, and that it promoted the aggressive
cult of masculinity. The point was not that women were innately more peaceful but
that they were the worst victims of violence and war. They were more vulnerable to
the diversion of funds >from the areas of health, food, education etc. as they
bear the responsibility of running homes and rearing families.
As this is still a nascent area of women's resistance, it is crucial to assess the
roles that women have played, and the reasons why they have been limited. Questions
raised included: What kind of roles have women played for obtaining peace in situations
of ethnic, communal and Indo-Pak conflict? Why do women working for peace become
weakened in these situations even after having worked strongly for it? While womens
fundamentalist groups have been formed in Kashmir, why have women's resistance groups
like the Mothers' Front or Women in Black not come up in India and Pakistan?
It was pointed out that discrimination against women, no reservation of seats in
parliament, enforcement of the guardianship of husbands or fathers over women, were
all integral aspects of state violence. They should be confronted along with the
physical violence, such as torture and killings, masterminded by the state.
The issue of cross-national trafficking in women between the South Asian countries
of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, and to the Gulf countries from
South Asia was referred to. The rapid increase in such trade of women in recent years
has become a cause of great concern. Though there is some information on this trade
between India and Bangladesh, there is little known about this situation in Pakistan.
While some delegates claimed that Pakistan is used only as a transit stop for trafficking
to the Gulf countries, others emphasized that though the number of Pakistani women
employed in this trade is smaller than that in the other South Asian countries, yet
many women are being so used in Pakistan too. Hence, this is a crucial issue to be
addressed jointly, specially because of the condition of hundreds of sex-workers
languishing in jails without any hope of returning to their countries for lack of
documents and finances, and because of the reluctance of their governments to even
acknowledge these women as citizens, far less play an active role in preventing cross-national
The difficulties in dealing with this situation were illustrated by citing a case
where a Pakistani activist had to fly all the way to Bangladesh and get massive press
coverage on the condition of Bangladeshi women smuggled into Pakistan in order for
the government to initiate any action.
The discussion on women against communalism began with the emphasis that all the
five major religions of the world, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism and Sikhism,
are patriarchal and discriminate against women.
Some delegates stated that though these religions have been negatively used against
women, they also have resources that can be developed positively for them. Criticizing
the discrimination against women in the name of Islam, it was asserted that the Quran
actually gives women many special rights; and that the ethical principles of the
Quran should form the basis of a paradigm for Muslim women.
Others asserted that the struggle against communalism should be forged on the basis
of cultural identity, of a common idiom of resistance shared across different religions.
It was argued that focus be placed on addressing the problem of the increasing number
of fanatical religious women such as the Saadhvis, and how they divide women in their
gender identities against each other into two communal groups. Hence, a joint and
common cultural and legal struggle against the effects of communalism on women is
Recommendations on Gender
1. At the next convention of the Forum there should be an attempt to organise group
meetings with local womens' organisations working on gender issues that are of concern
to the Pakistan-India Forum. This will facilitate future interaction and joint work
between groups working on similar issues in the two countries.
2. Use the Forum for a systematic exchange of folk and anti-communal songs, popular
in our countries, to combat the communal onslaught jointly. A special session should
also be organized one evening at each convention where delegates from each country
could learn the other's songs.
3. A committee be set up that would lobby with the two governments for:
a) Facilitating exchanges of books, exhibitions and programmes between the two countries.
b) Promoting joint seminars/workshops of academics, artists and activists.
c) Providing assistance for organising joint research projects and workshops between
universities and activist groups respectively.
d) In view of the lack of gender justice in the existing legal systems in both countries,
a committee was set up to formulate a Joint Charter of Egalitarian Principles that
should be govern the laws practised in each country, be they personal, religious
or civil. Further, it should be the deciding factor in each case which relates to
gender justice. This committee planned to meet once before the next convention. It
was further suggested that the Forum lobby with the governments of the two countries
to commit themselves to this Charter of Egalitarian Principles.
Satya Paul (India)
Kausar Javaid Kainkhani (Pakistan)
The Session was attended by twenty people. The Chairman welcomed the participants
and observed that media has an important role in the development of any nation or
region in the political, economic, social and cultural fields. It has many dimensions
which can be debated and discussed but keeping in view the short time at our disposal,
it would be better if we confine ourself to the role of media to promote ideas of
Pak-India Peoples' Forum.
Recommendations on Media
1. Joint committee of media to monitor recommendations may be formed which should
periodically meet to review progress. It should serve as PRO of the Forum and highlight
its working and proceedings.
2. Free exchange of newspapers and journals should be encouraged at concessional
3. Exchange of articles, news and views should be facilitated through concessional
telecommunications, fax, e-mail etc.
4. Frequent visits of journalists be arranged for which they should be given visas
for longer periods as in the case of jurists, and more entry points by road may be
allowed. Working journalists of both countries may be granted accreditation.
5. In order to promote mutual friendship, certain code of ethics may be formulated.
People should be encouraged to approach Pak-India Forum in the respective countries
with their complaints against print and electronic media items spreading hatred and
enmity against each other. The Forum should take up the matter with the concerned
6. The Forum should take up with respective governments matters regarding freedom
of media, copyright laws and other facilities for working journalists. It should
raise its voice against curtailment of such freedoms through various forums.
7. The media should disseminate information and educate the people about unnecessary
defence expenditure of both the countries and expose false propaganda of political
leaders and certain media agencies.
8. Like Indonesia, India may take the initiative to promote wider networking of the
media for mutual understanding, cooperation and friendship. Other countries of SAARC
9. Regional, local, and linguistic media should be approached and associated for
spreading the ideology of Pak-India Forum.
10. The Forum may consider publishing a common magazine simultaneously from India
and Pakistan, which should promote the ideology of the Forum and mutual trade, commerce,
cultural and social issues beneficial to each other. This common magazine may invite
news, views, articles and advertisements to meet the expenditure.
11. The Chairman informed that Mr Siddharth Kak, producer and director of Surabhi,
a popular TV serial which has been highlighting the cultural heritage of India and
other countries, has shown his willingness to highlight the cultural heritage of
Pakistan and our common culture and social life, if he is permitted to visit and
shoot in Pakistan.
Sushil Khanna (India)
M.B. Naqvi (Pakistan)
Daya Verma (India)
The Session was attended by seventeen people. No formal resolution was adopted. The
main points raised by participants are summarized as follows:
1. The period 1991 is the beginning of the policy of economic subservience in India
in contrast to the earlier policy of the Congress governments before Rao.
2. Although full employment should be a desired policy of both India and Pakistan,
full employment by itself does not ensure alleviation of poverty, which would require
a much more comprehensive plan to deal with the socio-economic problems of the majority
of the people.
3. The trade between India and Pakistan has progressively declined and has reached
the low value of less than Rs 1000 crore. An increase in free trade between these
two countries will be greatly beneficial to the living conditions of the people,
to increase productivity as well as effect improvement in relations between these
two countries. Restrictions on transport and customs regulations are detrimental
to the trade between these two countries. For example transport of goods from Punjab
in India to Punjab in Pakistan have to be diverted via Bombay and Karachi.
4. The Forum should organise Pakistan-India Trade Seminars in both countries.
5. The present policy of economic development, under globalisation, has been lopsided;
it has the potential of plunging a large portion of our population into dire poverty-even
6. Since our economy is agriculture-based, we should not copy western models of development.
The present policy is forcing rural population towards slums in the cities. Pakistan
rejected the Nehruvian model of self-reliance and instead adopted the economic policy
dictated by Harvard economists who were part of the Pakistani planning commission.
These two diverse economic policies naturally led to a decrease in exchange between
these two countries and contributed to hostility.
7. Globalisation is greatly affecting the agriculture sector in these two countries
leading to cultivation of items not central to our needs and adversely affecting
biodiversity which was a key factor in our traditional agricultural policies. This
new emphasis in development is not sustainable.
P.K. Murthy (India)
Salim Raza (Pakistan)
B.M. Kutty (Pakistan)
The following areas of concern were identified:
1. Labour Rights, Agricultural Labour
2. GATT - WTO - SAP Privatisation, Impact on Labour.
3. MNCs Coordination between Indian-Pakistan-South Asian countries.
4. Contract Labour.
6. Regional Economic Cooperation, Trade.
7. Prejudices among workers of one country towards the other.
8. Combating religious/sectarian tendencies among workers.
Recommendations on Trade Unions
1. Trade unions in both countries shall initiate all the necessary steps to promote
the objectives of the Pakistan-India Peoples' Forum for Peace and Democracy.
2. This group recommends to the PIPFPD that a Pak-India Trade Unions Committee/Cell
should be constituted which should try to ensure that the following steps are initiated
by Pakistani and Indian Trade Unions in the year 1997:
a) Exchange of Information
i) Literature, newsletters, reports etc. of trade unions relating to the labour movement
in general to be exchanged regularly between trade unions of the two countries.
ii) Names and addresses of trade unions/federations of both countries be exchanged.
iii) Literature on peace, democracy and certain issues (like Kashmir), published
in each country be made available to trade unions in the other country to enable
them to become updated.
iv) Specific information on:
- Labour rights as provided in constitution.
- Laws - Rules - Violations.
- Trade union actions against violations.
- Prejudices prevailing in the workers/trade unions of one country against the other
be challenged, and views exchanged between the two countries so that trade unions
of both countries may develop coordinated action and gradually correct the situation.
v) Video films of proceedings of conferences of trade unions/federations, speeches
of trade union leaders, etc. in both the countries be prepared and exchanged.
vi) Lists of names of persons in universities and colleges in both countries who
are engaged in the study of labour issues (and their publications, if any) be exchanged
between trade unions/federations of the two countries.
vii) Information on: "organising" in the unorganised sector in the two
countries-informal sector, agricultural labour-be exchanged in order that each may
benefit from the other's experience.
viii) Representatives of trade unions/federations of Pakistan be invited by Indian
trade unions to their Conferences and vice-versa. This will facilitate regular interaction
and exchange of views and experiences between the two.
b) Other Steps
i) Support and strengthen earlier initiatives such as the joint struggle of the fish
workers of Pakistan and India, which has resulted in the decision of the foreign
ministers of the two countries to release the detained Pakistani and Indian fishermen
(who had been detained over three years) soon. Support and strengthen South Asian
Multinational Trade Unions to develop a formal South Asian organisation. Support
and strengthen the South Asian Labour Forum.
ii) Organise a Pakistan-India Convention of Trade Unionists at which the above proposals
shall be reviewed and new proposals formulated.
iii) Support all initiatives towards establishing Regional Cooperation in SouthAsia,
and, as a first step, support free unhindered trade between Pakistan and India.
In conclusion it was stated that the steps being suggested could be initiated and
accomplished in 1997.
Krishen Khanna (India)
I.A. Rehman (Pakistan)
Suhasini Mulay (India)
Both Chairpersons gave an overview of the history of cultural developments in the
past years. Krishen Khanna focussed on the history of painting in this period and
the role played by groups like the Progressive Painters Group in the post-independence
era. It was during this period that the first case of obscenity was filed against
a painting called "Lovers" in 1954. This case has been cited in the recent
allegation against M.F. Hussain for his painting "Durga" by the Vishwa
Hindu Parishad, a fundamentalist Hindu organisation in India.
Prof. I. A. Rehman gave a quick sketch of major events in the cultural history of
Pakistan, and said that in the process of setting up an Islamic state in Pakistan
all the culture that did not fit in was discharged. This not only affected the classical
disciplines of music, painting and dance, but also folk culture as they did not have
a "national" character. Various arts languished, but during the military
dictatorship they began to grow as they symbolised a form of political rebellion
against the regime. Things are looking up now and at this juncture the various arts
are at a crossroads and could flourish, given the correct impetus.
The group agreed to the fact that culture can act as a messenger of peace and democracy
through a process of humanizing people. In essence our value-system is intact, only
the social institutions built over it are polluted. Social engineering, possible
through the development and promotion of aesthetics and fine arts, could help remove
much of our social problems. The group agreed on the tremendous social impact of
popular culture and endorsed its utilization in the process of social integration
of the sub-continent. It was agreed that the Western cultural model which is being
taken up by the people is contrary to our value-system and is creating several social
problems. The group recommended the revival of cultural teams and institutions for
healthy social development. The essence of this revivalism has to be "pluralism".
Ethnocentric tendencies have to be curbed.
Recommendations on Culture
1. Laws that govern cultural exchanges should be modified to include:
i) Allowing painters to bring in paintings without paying 150% duty before any sales
can take place.
ii) Allowing artists to work in India and Pakistan in cultural exchanges planned
during the year.
2. "Pakistan" to be made the theme in the Book Fair in Calcutta to ensure
exchange of books.
3. Indo-Pak mushairas should be revived.
4. Joint Pak-India calligraphy exhibitions in various cities should be held.
5. The Forum should facilitate contacts between different disciplines of art and
chalk out a concrete programme for the coming year.
6. The Forum should involve women grassroot level folk artists and marginalised sections
like tribal groups, representing indigenous cultures, as necessary components of
7. The Forum urges upon the governments of India and Pakistan to facilitate the exchange
of writers, artists, researchers, teachers, students and academics in different fields
of specialization, in an effort to promote cultural transactions between the two
8. Translation, exchange and dissemination of literary works, poems, audio-visual
material depicting the essential oneness of the people of the two countries be promoted
9. The Forum should come up with a critique of the existing culture so as to elucidate
and identify the liberating aspects of our culture.
10. The Forum should promote cross-fertilization of artists and thereby prepare a
platform for their free interaction, and open channels of communication between the
people of the two countries to facilitate free flow of information and ideas.
Tahir Mohammad Khan (Pakistan)
K. Balagopal (India)
The committee began its deliberations with presentations by Tahir Mohammad Khan and
K.Balagopal. Tahir Mohammad Khan in his paper examined the state of democracy and
the poor performance of the legislatures. He pointed out that the decline of values
in the functioning of institutions has caused the collapse of state machinery in
providing and protecting human rights. Therefore, human rights have seriously suffered
in Pakistan. Mr. K. Balagopal said that repressive policies, where unconstitutional
powers allowing massive killing has been appropriated by the security agencies and
police, have been a consistent threat to the life and honour of people. He referred
to the operations in Punjab and Kashmir where thousands of citizens have been detained
and brutally murdered in the name of law and order. He emphasized that in the presence
of extra constitutional powers exercised by the security agencies, human rights cannot
Twenty three members contributed to the discussion about the various aspects which
undermined human rights in India and Pakistan. They made the following observations:
1) The Liaqat-Nehru Pact (of 1952) should be published again and widely circulated
to remind the two governments about their responsibilities with respect to minorities.
2) Ethnic violence has caused more deaths and suffering than state repression. Therefore,
the Forum should lobby and open dialogue with the political parties and put pressure
upon them to fulfill their expressed commitment to the people and stop violence,
including armed conflicts.
3) The human rights organizations generally give low priority to gender/family dimensions.
Therefore, they may be asked to take such issues more seriously.
4) It is true that the governments have failed to respect human rights but the citizens
are also not responding to the need for human rights. Individuals should feel their
personal responsibilities and respond by respecting human rights in their own lives,
if necessary, even by "self suffering".
5) Forest tribes or aboriginal rights are not respected. In the name of "national
interest and development" tribal people are dislocated, which causes serious
human suffering. The Forum may coordinate with agencies engaged in movements to protect
1) Both governments may be urged to sign all international treaties and conventions
concerning human rights, the rights of the child and the rights of women.
2) The governments should be lobbied on the need to make legislation to implement
the national conventions.
3) Efforts should be made to increase awareness about human rights by coordinating
with such other organizations who work for human rights.
4) Free, compulsory and universal primary education must be ensured.
Manoranjan Mohanty (India)
Anwar Kamal (Pakistan)
Twenty persons who attended the discussion agreed that the cause of crisis in South
1) Inadequate democratic transformation.
2) Inability to complete anti-colonial, anti-feudal and anti-caste transformation.
3) Vision of freedom inherited from the freedom struggle not fulfilled but subverted
by external and internal factors
a) External - Global capitalist system which wants to globalise third world markets
b) Internal - Initial strategies created demand for more democratisation but from
1970 onwards the third world elites started compromising and by the 80s and 90s they
were relying more and more on global capital and resorted to manipulation and suppression
of movements for greater rights and autonomy.
4) The paradoxes of democracy were highlighted and the difference between democracy
and freedom was emphasized.
5) Questions of corruption were debated and shortcomings of electoral democracy were
brought up. The question of moving from merely electoral to participatory democracy
was also discussed with reference to how to elect the right persons, how to determines
peoples' aspirations, how to educate and how to develop science and technology as
a tool of democratisation.
It was concluded that democracy is a multi-layered phenomenon with a democratised
economic base calling for land reforms, with resistance to invasion of multinational
capital and implementation of Panchayati Raj.
1. To further democratisation, alternative development strategies must be evolved
and implementation ensured.
2. These strategies should include proposals for further land reform, resistance
to pernicious invasion of multinational capital and policies of their representative
institutions like the IMF and the World Bank, and implementation of Panchayati Raj.
3. The electoral process should be reformed
4. The Forum should take an immediate practical step that is, to take up the cause
of fishermen's rights and of other prisoners languishing in jails in both the countries.
5. Indian delegates recommended that the government contract granted to fishing trawlers
should be cancelled as it is depriving small fisherman of their livelihood.
6. The delegates recommended that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in India
should be repealed.
Dinesh Mohan (India)
Haroon Ahmad (Pakistan)
This was the first time a sectoral group consisting of professionals (lawyers, doctors,
teachers, scientists, academicians) met to plan future collaboration on the guidelines
provided by the Forum. Thirty one members attended. Dinesh Mohan and Haroon Ahmad
opened the discussion emphasizing the need for availability of information, literature,
journals and periodicals and the exchange of professional groups at formal and informal
meetings and symposia to facilitate learning from our own experience. Teachers in
all professional fields should have facilities to share teaching methods and material.
The participants felt strongly about lack of contact between the academic, scientific
and other professional communities of the two countries. During the last fifty years
we have accumulated vast experience of our own, while our resources are still being
spent on foreign consultants and advisors.
1) Nuclei of lawyers, physicians and teachers in Pakistan and India should be formed
to promote research, exchange information and arrange delegations. Various professional
bodies should take the four major issues of the Forum to our respective professional
organizations for discussion. Technical and scientific journals and books should
be allowed to flow freely between the two countries.
2) Research themes and methodology should be shared between the professionals of
the two countries. A resource centre/clearing house should be established at appropriate
places in both the countries. To facilitate exchange of lawyers, physicians, teachers
and academicians, the PIPFPD chapters in each country should facilitate issue of
visas for small group exchanges.
3) Child and maternal mortality is very high in our countries compared to many third
world countries. To counter it we have to evolve our own methodology and implement
principles which are relevant to our culture. Public health issues have to be addressed.
4) Lawyers proposed a common area of interest-public interest litigation, which should
Nuclei of professionals were set up as follows:
a) Dinesh Mohan (India) and Haroon Ahmed (Pakistan) and Daya Varma (Montreal) to
facilitate appropriate activities.
(b) Lawyers Atul Seetalvad (Bombay), M.L. Goel (Jaipur), Maronanjan Mohanty (Delhi),
Anwar Kamal, Bilal Minto, and Saira M.Khan (Lahore), Sher Mohammad (Swat)
(c) Exchange of articles / information B.Subdendra Dasgupta (Calcutta), Balagopal
(Hyderabad), Abid Hasan Minto (Lahore), Baseer Naweed (Karachi), R.A. Rashid
(d) Physicians Sanjiv Mukerjee (Calutta), Haroon Ahmed (Karachi) Others to be inducted.
For better communication among professionals it was strongly recommended that E-mail
list server of PIPFPD be established in each country. In time a resource centre should
also be established in each country.
Shafiqa Farhat (Pakistan)
It was unanimously agreed that the women all over the world have similar problems.
Raziya Rabb, from Balochistan, explained Islamic influences on the marriage system.
She emphasized that the Pakistani women's movement began from Lahore but is not yet
all-pervasive. R. A. Rashid explained the use of Kanoon-e-Fitrat (Laws of Nature)
to subjugate women. Zareena Salamat said that there should be proper interpretation
of the Quran. She also highlighted anomalies in widow remarriage system in Pakistan.
Ubaidullah Bhutto said that there is no harmony between law and culture in Pakistan
and he invited active steps on behalf of the Forum in this direction. Kavita Panjabi
asked whether religion has really given equal status to women. All attempts should
be made to understand the legal status of women. Keshoree Jadar emphasized that family
laws should be kept outside the religious sphere.
i) Ashraf Abbas (Quetta) proposed that there should be amendments in laws regarding
marriage, divorce, property rights and maintenance in Pakistan.
ii) R. M. Pal (Delhi) proposed that government should introduce primary education,
particularly for women.
iii) Sophia Khan (Ahmedabad) proposed that there should be a joint committee to translate
existing discriminatory laws. Let there be a joint workshop on Indo-Pakistan laws
regarding gender issues.
iv) Paula Bannerjee (Calcutta) said that there should be translation of laws in different
languages and their dissemination in rural areas.
v) Kavita Panjabi and Rajshree Dasgupta (Calcutta) proposed the formation of a small
group that would work on developing a Joint Charter of Egalitarian Principles. Seven
key-persons were identified to work for the next one year.
1 Ashraf Abbas, (Balochistan) Custody of children
2 Gomathi Venkateswar, (Bombay) Homeless women
3 Shafiqa Farhat, (Bhopal) Village women
4 Amina Zaman, (Faisalabad) Women's education
5 Kavita Punjabi, (Calcutta) Women and law
6 Rajshree Dasgupta, (Calcutta) - do-
7 Sophia Khan, (Ahmedabad) Muslim personal law
Report of the [Concluding]
Mubashir Hasan (Pakistan)
Atul Setalvad (India)
I.A. Rehman (Pakistan)
Nirmal Mukerji (India)
Safdar Hasan Siddiqui (Pakistan)
Anirban Chattopadhyay (India)
The reports of the four separate joint committees on Demilitarisation and Denuclearisation,
Religious intolerance, Governance and Kashmir were presented by the following members
of the Forum :
Demilitarisation by Shimreichon Luithui, Religious Intolerance by Rao Abid Hameed
& Syeda Hameed, Governance by Salil Biswas and Kashmir by Dinesh Mohan. Copies
of reports were submitted to the presidium.
Twenty four respondents participated in the ensuing discussion.
Nirmala Deshpande (India)
The common man is inherently secular. The Forum should build up peoples' movements.
Or else, it will be difficult to implement really constructive programmes.
Khadim Hussain (Pakistan)
a) Resolutions should be divided into two classes, viz. those asking the governments
to do something and those setting out some task for the Forum itself. This classification
would facilitate appraisal of the Forum's performance.
b) There is already a system of visa exemption for certain categories of citizens,
e.g. judges. The Forum should, to start with, ask the governments to extend this
to other categories, like peoples elected representatives.
c) Joint patrol of the Line of Control should be initiated by the Forum as part of
Confidence Building Measures.
The Forum should pressurise the governments to reduce the postal tariff between India
and Pakistan. If the minimum postage stamp rate is Re. 1 between India and Nepal,
why should it be Rs. 16 between India and Pakistan? There are two ways in which the
Forum can work on this:
a) It should organise a mass campaign to demand the reduction;
b) The members of the Forum with some influence in the corridors of power can use
it to make the policy makers listen to the demand.
Kamran Ahmed (Pakistan)
Forum members have experienced some difficulties, particularly in their work on demilitarisation.
In this context, the Forum should clarify certain issues and procedures. In particular,
to specify whether we want to broaden the public base of support and stop at that
or whether we should confront other groups which oppose the cause of the Forum.
R M Pal (India)
a) The Forum should find and present specific examples of how textbooks distort history.
For example, many of the Indian textbooks teach that Jinnah was the only man responsible
for the partition of India. This bias distorts the mindset of children. They grow
up with this distortion. This must be corrected.
b) There must be emphasis in textbooks on the tradition of tolerance in the history
of the two countries.
c) Indian members of the Forum should write (and inspire others to write) about the
activities of the civil liberties groups and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
Shakil Ahmed (Pakistan)
a) To begin with, the Forum can demand visa relaxation for 6 cities, viz., Amritsar,
Delhi, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Mumbai.
b) There should be no restriction on journalists of one country working in another.
c) The recommendations of the Calcutta Convention should be sent, in the form of
a press release, to the Press Trust of India and the Associated Press of Pakistan.
Mohan Panjabi (India)
The Forum should demand that the exchange of people in all sectors, particularly
trade, industry and culture, be facilitated.
Aimal Khan (Pakistan)
There should be joint celebration of the Independence of the two countries on the
14th and 15th August, 1997.
Peggy Mohan (India)
The problem of demilitarisation in Pakistan and India is not a local issue. We must
bring in the global perspective of the arms race and the superpowers. It must be
stressed that the military build-up has actually nothing to do with national security.
We must stress that the people of both the countries are victims of very powerful
Maulana Obaidullah Bhutto (Pakistan)
The proceedings of the Forum should be conducted in Hindi and Urdu, so that the common
people of the two countries can participate more freely. We have so far confined
ourselves to the upper echelons of society. This must change.
Col. B. S. Sekhon (India)
a) We should try and celebrate Independence on both sides of the Wagah border by
organising `Jana Melas' (peoples' fairs).
b) We should go to villages and spread our message among the people.
Acharya Meenakshi Devi (India)
It is important to spread the message that secularism is integral to good sense.
We are inherently friends.
Riaz Ahmed Rashid (Pakistan)
To fight against majoritarianism, it is necessary to institute the system of proportional
Niranjan Haldar (India)
a) The Forum should work for banning land mines used in both countries because they
kill common people, including women and children.
b) The Forum should condemn the rise of violence wreaked by militants on both sides.
Owais Sheikh (Pakistan)
a) A committee should be formed of Indians and Pakistanis and it should visit (the
two parts of) Kashmir.
b) Emergency visas should be issued to those engaged in peace dialogue.
Satya Paul (India)
a) Exchange of newspapers should be facilitated.
b) Correspondents of the two countries should be allowed to work freely in each other's
c) In addition to Wagah, there should be more openings along the border.
d) India, as the `big brother', should come forward to improve relations.
Shafiqa Farhat (India)
The postal system should be simplified.
Adnan Adil (Pakistan)
The Forum should demand a formal apology from both the governments for the genocide
committed during the Partition.
Daya Verma (India)
A large section of the Indians and Pakistanis abroad share the feeling of amity.
The Forum should take steps to involve them formally.
Sumit Chakraborty (India)
a) The Forum should observe Solidarity Day(s) on the 14th and 15th of August.
b) Support Adnan Adil's demand for apology
c) The struggle for peace and friendship is bound to be a long drawn out struggle,
because there are people whose minds have been vitiated by the campaign of hate.
To succeed in this struggle, we have to spread out, particularly to schools and colleges.
We must stress that our movement is not against nationalism in the true sense of
the term. On the contrary, it is the best form of nationalism. What we are against
d) The Forum should condemn attacks on common people by the forces nurtured by the
authorities in both the countries.
e) Visa restrictions should be removed for journalists (among others) because they
have to visit other countries to carry out their jobs.
f) The Heads of the two states (not the heads of the governments) should be presented
with all the recommendations.
Khwaja Waseem (Pakistan)
a) Traders and businessmen should be allowed to move freely.
b) Trade should be liberalised, maybe gradually. We can start by liberalising the
import of items which are not indigenously produced, so that import does not affect
domestic production adversely.
Why don't we raise the demand for self-determination of Kashmiri people?
Arjun Prasad Singh (India)
We cannot attain peace and democracy unless we find ways of countering imperialism
and feudalism. To do that, we must involve the toiling masses in our movement.
Kavita Panjabi (India) presented the report of the session on Gender. A copy of the
report was tabled.
Nirmal Mukarji commented that there was some overlapping in the reports of the different
groups. This would be taken care of in the final list of recommendations. He also
raised a query whether there should be a separate group for exploring the role of
women in promoting the objectives of the Forum.
I.A. Rehman read out the Calcutta Declaration. The Declaration was adopted by a voice
Appendix - I
A note on the report of Calcutta Convention
1. The yellow cover page indicates that the contents are proceedings of the third
2. There is a table of contents indicating page number of the reports etc.
3. It has been found useful to commence the proceedings with a brief introduction,
which among other things mentions the following:-
i) Brief background, especially the Lahore founding meeting of Sept. 9, and the 2
earlier conventions of Delhi, Feb. 95, and Lahore, Nov. 95. For new, as well as old,
participants, a recap of this kind is essential.
ii) Context of Calcutta meeting: Why Calcutta? (a) because it was India's turn this
time, (b) because opinion of Lahore meet favoured some place other than Delhi (c)
India chapter chose Calcutta because our sub-chapter there offered to host the convention
and we felt Calcutta would be a suitable venue.
iii) Structurally, what made Calcutta different?: (a) Much larger participation from
both sides (b) Much more forthcoming cooperation from both govts., 1 month non-reporting
visas for 8 places for Indian side, plus facilitation for immigration from Wagah
opened for the first time after 14(?) years and rail travel and matching facilitation
from Pakistan side (or at least no one was stopped from coming).
iv) Calcutta Convention set two directions:
One, we must go to the people
Two, we must try to break into the decision - making fortresses on both sides.
v) Going to the people started at Calcutta itself: march from College Square to Esplanade,
culminating in the "Jalsa" there. This needs to be highlighted, because
this was the main difference between Calcutta and Delhi and Lahore. The flavor of
`we shall overcome song' during the march, and some of the poetry recited at the
Jalsa needs to be brought out.
vi) Breaking into power fortress also, in a way, started in Calcutta itself, with
the State govt. throwing its weight fully behind the convention. The Speaker's role
as chief guest at the inaugural session, plus as host for the dinner in the grounds
of the Legislative Assembly, needs to be highlighted, (because the Speaker represents
the House). So should the role of the chief minister (Shri Jyoti Basu), not only
in overall facilitation of the convention but also in his attending the Speaker's
dinner and making himself freely available to chat to the Pak delegates.
vii) Favorable indicators subsequent to Calcutta convention can be mentioned. Such
as (a) unilateral relaxation by India of visas and inflow of Pak publications, (b)
success of democracy in Pakistan in the shape of larger, peaceful and fair elections,
(c) resumptions at long last of dialogue between the 2 countries.