Pakistan India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy
11-Temple Road, Lahore,

K-14 (F.F), Green Park Extn.,
New Delhi -110 016, India

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 session
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 Intolerance
Brief on the discussion on Demilitarisation and Denuclearisation
Reports of Special Session (Open Session)
[Gender, Media, Economic Development, Trade Unions, Culture,
Human Rights, Democratisation Group, Professional Group,
Women's Group]
Report of the [Concluding] Plenary Session
Appendix I

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, housing etc.

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 travel costs.

- 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' basic needs.


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.

Religious Intolerance

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.

Gender Justice

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 delegate.

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 one another.

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.

Inaugural Address 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 convention.

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 in demonology.

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 dhanyabad, shukriya.

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.

Rapporteur :
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.

1. Demilitarization
2. Governance
3. Religious Intolerance
4. Kashmir

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 Independence day.

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 the torch-
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 be realised;

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 on Kashmir

Co- Chairpersons:
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
d. Literature
e. Culture

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 two countries.

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

  • Education and History

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 level.

  • State, Law and Politics

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).

  • Media and Communication

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 (India).

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).

  • Culture

Contact Person:
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.

  • Literature

Contact Person:
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).

Other Objectives
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 countries.

Brief 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 circumstances.


The participants agreed on the following:
1. Both India and Pakistan should support all the international efforts for a nuclear free world.
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

1. Demilitarisation
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 military spending.
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 public opinion.

3. Denuclearisation.

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 any circumstance.
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 nuclear disarmament.
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 schools.

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 (Open Session)

Gender (Social, Political and Cultural Resistance of Women in India and Pakistan)

Zarina Salamat (Pakistan)
Neera Adarkar (India)

Keynote speakers

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 laws.

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 trafficking.

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 needed.

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 postal rates.
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 government.
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 may follow.
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.

Economic Development

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 starvation.
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.

Trade Unions

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.
5. Militarisation.
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 cultural exchange.

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 countries.

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 and facilitated.

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.

Human Rights

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 be protected.

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 tribal rights.

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.

Democratisation Group

Manoranjan Mohanty (India)
Anwar Kamal (Pakistan)

Twenty persons who attended the discussion agreed that the cause of crisis in South Asia was:

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.

Professional Group

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 be pursued.

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.

Women's Group

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] Plenary Session


(First Half)
Mubashir Hasan (Pakistan)
Atul Setalvad (India)

(Second Half)
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.

Meghnath (India)
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 global forces.

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 representation.

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 territory.
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 is chauvinism.
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.

Rupesh (India)
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 vote.

Appendix - I

A note on the report of Calcutta Convention

1. The yellow cover page indicates that the contents are proceedings of the third convention.

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.

Nirmal Mukarji

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