www.sacw.net | March 13, 2005
Text of Declaration of PIPFPD's Seventh Joint Convention
( New Delhi, February 2005)
[Reproduced from Mainstream Weekly, March 12, 2005]
The Seventh Joint Convention of the Pakistan-India Peoplesí Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) took place in New Delhiís Mavalankar Auditorium and Constitution Club from February 25 to 28, 2005. It was a resounding success with the participation of some 650 delegates from both the countries, the Pakistani delegates numbering 325, the largest ever since the Forum was established in September 1994.
Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee inaugurated the Convention in the evening of February 25, 2005. The following day veteran Pakistani public figure, Dr Mubashir Hasan, who was the Minister for Finance and Planning under Z.A. Bhutto, delivered the keynote address while on February 27 Prof Prabhat Patnaik of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi gave a special lecture on the ill-effects of globalisation for the developing world in particular.
An evening of memorable songs presented by the renowned Pakistani singer, the seventyfive year-old Farida Khanum, a distinguished member of the Forumís Pakistan Chapter, on February 26 was a high-point of the Convention. Also significant was a Youth Assembly wherein the PIPFPDís young delegates from both the countries took active part.
External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh hosted a reception for the Conventionís participants at Hyderabad House on February 27, and personally went round to meet and welcome each and every Pakistani delegate. Union Minister for Youth Affairs Sunil Dutt addressed the Youth Assembly.
For the first time a group of citizens from the other side of Kashmir came to India for the Convention, and they included a representative of Gilgit-Baltistan. This group actively participated in the Conventionís deliberations and had fruitful interaction with Kashmiris on this side of the LoC.
It was announced at the Convention that the PIPFPDís Pakistan Chapter had helped to identify and locate some 138 Indian prisoners who were ìmissingî (that is, launguishing in various Pakistani jails).
The theme of the Seventh Convention was ìBringing in the Margins... A New Voice, a New Destinyî. The final declaration pledged to ìbring the marginalised section of society into the movement for Indo-Pak amity as a means to voice their aspirationsî. While the reports of the three working groups set up at the Sixth Convention (Karachi, December 2003)óon Kashmir, religious minorities, and peace and reconciliationówere presented at this Convention and discussed threadbare, it was agreed upon to set up another working group on water sharing in the coming days. On February 27 four working groups held productive discussions on the impact of globalisation on trade unions and the working people, women, environment, and India-Pakistan economic ties.
The following New Delhi Declaration was adopted on February 28 at the conclusion of the Convention. It was decided in principle to hold the nextóEighthóConvention of the PIPFPD at Islamabad in 2006. óEditor
We, the delegates at the Seventh Joint Convention of the Pakistan India Peoplesí Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD), held in New Delhi on February 25-28, 2005, express our condolences for the victims of the tsunami disaster, and our solidarity and support to the survivors. The Forum expresses its concern for those who are struggling to cope with the recent floods, snowstorms and avalanches that have also exposed the unpreparedness of the state machinery.
After deliberating on several issues relating to peace between our two countries, and building upon the previous PIPFPD Joint Conventions, we hereby adopt the following declaration at the final plenary session of this Joint Convention.
The Forum decided to appoint a joint committee to deliberate the question of establishing peace and goodwill between the peoples (as distinct from the elite) of India and Pakistan on a permanent basis. The committee should suggest how the peoples of India and Pakistan should jointly and separately mobilise themselves to bring about the conditions of permanent peace, participatory democracy and united struggle against neo-imperialist forces. The committee should also formulate a long term plan of action for the Forum to realise its objectives.
PIPFPD resolves to seriously address the issue of gender inequality and gender injustice against women in the substance and the process of the working of the Forum and to exhort our governments to do the same. The Forum calls upon the two governments to repeal all laws that are discriminatory against women.
We welcome the ongoing dialogue process between India and Pakistan, particularly the breakthrough that has been achieved in terms of restoring the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road-link. We hope that this will be the first step in restoring other cross-border links.
As part of the Forumís commitment to facilitate the meetings of Kashmiris from either side of the Line of Control, we particularly welcome those who are attending the PIPFPD Convention for the first time.
The expanding involvement of the youth in this Convention is particularly welcome.
The following recommendations and measures were adopted at the various working groups.
We reiterate our long-standing position that Kashmir is not merely a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan, but a matter of the lives and aspirations of the Kashmiri people. We urge recognition of the fact that there is a plurality of views on both sides of divided J&K as well as several approaches to the disputeóranging from independence, accession to Pakistan, to de jure recognition of the current status quo.
We re-emphasise that the dispute is a political one and must be resolved politically. Therefore, we call on all parties, state and non-state, to abjure violence. We express our particular concern about the use of former militants in counter-insurgency operations by different state agencies.
Given the diversity of opinion, it is all the more critical that peopleís voices be heard, their right of self-determination be recognised, and no solution imposed. In keeping with this spirit, the Forum reaffirms its position to not offer any solution as this is a right that belongs to the peoples of J&K.
PIPFPD emphasises the right of peoples from both sides of the Line of Control to meet and demands that the two governments remove restrictions on the exercise of this right.
The Forum draws urgent attention to the situation of ëmissingí persons due to abductions by state agencies and urges the state to divulge the whereabouts of the ëdisappearedí. PIPFPD notes with concern the propensity of the armed forces to disregard the directives of the judiciary, particularly in a situation where the armed forces mostly administer the state on both sides of the LoC. The Forum demands the repeal of special laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act that foster a culture of impunity.
Despite the ceasefire that we welcome, official claims of normalcy are belied by the continuance of counter-insurgency operations that are causing enormous hardship to the peoples of J&K. The Forum reiterates its demand for withdrawal of armed forces and armed groups on both sides.
PIPFPD condemns the systematic use of rape, sexual abuse, harassment, abduction and eviction of women by security forces (who justify it as a counter-insurgency measure), as well as similar acts by non-state groups.
We draw attention to the economic plight of refugees and internally displaced families, a large number of whom comprise women-headed households.
The Forum directs attention to the particular situation of the Kashmiri youth, who are deprived of educational opportunities and livelihood due to the ongoing violence and mis-governance.
The situation in J&K has resulted in grave health problems, particularly mental health risks for the people. We urge the governments to create appropriate facilities to address this critical issue.
The Forum calls for the inclusion of the Kashmiris in any discussion regarding the water disputes between India and Pakistan, since these waters originate in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, but it is the peoples of this region who benefit the least.
The Forum urges attention to the situation in Gilgit and Baltistan that are experiencing the loss of state subject rights, and are also more vulnerable to state induced alterations in their demographic make up.
PIPFPD expresses concern over the deterioration in the situation and treatment of religious minorities in both Pakistan and India, aggravated by communal conflagrations where conflict in one country sparks off conflict in the other.
The Forum demands that Hindus from Pakistan who migrate to India and Muslims from India who migrate to Pakistan along with their families be guaranteed dual nationality. Visa and movement restrictions on persons, particularly women, who have contracted cross-border marriages, must be lifted.
PIPFPD undertakes to work against the disruptive activities of those sections of NRIs and NRPs who are aiding communalist and extremist forces in their respective countries of origin.
PIPFPD demands changes in legislation that discriminates against minorities. The Forum pledges to bring the marginalised sections of society into the movement for Indo-Pak amity as a means to voice their aspirations.
The Forum calls upon both governments to effect changes in school texts so that minorities are not stereotyped, demonised or misrepresented.
We urge the media on both sides to be sensitive and responsible when reporting on minority issues and not to exacerbate communal tensions.
Peace and Reconciliation
PIPFPD undertakes to further the process of people-to-people exchanges of special interest groups.
We reiterate our longstanding demand for a nuclear-free South Asia as an integral part of the global demand for nuclear disarmament, an incremental reduction of security and defence expenditure and diverting it to the social sector. We condemn the use of military force against civilian populations in internal conflicts in the two countries.
The Forum undertakes to develop a peace curriculum and to actively lobby with government and educational institutions to introduce it.
PIPFPD reiterates its principled stand calling for abolition of the visa regime and urges the two governments to institute as an interim measure visa-on-arrival. In the meantime, we again call upon both governments to abolish the requirement for police reporting and city-specific visas. We urge the Indian Government to fulfil its promise to exempt senior citizens and other special categories, and urge the Pakistan Government to implement similar measures.
We reiterate our support for the opening of all links that facilitate people-to-people contacts, including the Karachi-Mumbai ferry service and the Khokrapar-Munabao border. However, we do caution the governments of the need to take into account the sensitivities of communities who feel demographically threatened.
The Forum again calls upon the governments to ift the restrictions that exist on each otherís media, periodicals and publications, including scientific material.
Taking into account the growing seriousness of the issue of sharing of waters, exacerbated by the shrinking of the Siachen Glacier caused by the militarisation of the glacier, the Forum calls for the expeditious resolution of these issues that are a potential threat to peace.
Adding to bilateral tensions and ill-will is the continuing criminalisation of fisherfolk who stray across un-demarcated maritime borders. The two governmentsí recently announced policy regarding the speedy release of fisherfolk and their equipment is welcome but is not being implemented as is evident by recent arrests and incarcerations.
Youth delegates from India and Pakistan at an Youth Assembly held during the Seventh Joint Convention of PIPFPD in Delhi resolved to constitute a Youth Forum under the umbrella of PIPFPD. The Youth Forum aims at mobilising the youth in the peace movement in both the countries.
The following working groups were constituted to deliberate on issues concerning the youth:
a. Culture and religion
b. Education and interactive research
d. Globalisation and its impact
e. Media and sports.
We reiterate the PIPFPDís position adopted in the Karachi Declaration of the Sixth Joint Convention:
We are convinced that the peoples of the world in general and South Asia in particular face new forms of imperialistic globalisation that is today
i) increasingly aided and abetted by local interest and constituencies,
ii) imposes an iniquitous system on the developing countries,
iii) destroys the livelihood of the common people,
iv) undermines the political and economic independence of countries,
v) directs violence against people with different political and social ideas, particularly the Muslim people, and
vi) terrorises entire countries in the name of fighting terrorism.
We express our solidarity with the ongoing movements, of which we are a part, against the IMF, World Bank and WTO, as well as the agents of imperialist globalisation.
Go to the South Asia Citizens Web | Return to Peace in South Asia