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Mainstream, VOL L, No 6, January 28, 2012

Restore Indo-Pak Friendship, Fight Global Hegemonism, Support Peoples’ Resistance

Tuesday 31 January 2012




The following is the Declaration adopted at the conclusion of the Eighth Joint Convention of Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) held in Allahabad (December 29-31, 2011). More than 190 delegates from Pakistan attended the Convention.

We, the delegates of the Eighth Joint Convention of the Pakistan ‘India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD), held in Allahabad from December 29 to 31, 2011, note with concern that the relationship between India and Pakistan has deteriorated since the last Convention, which took place in New Delhi from February 25 to 28, 2005. The past seven years have seen the Mumbai terror attacks and a continuing assault on Pakistani sovereignty by NATO forces headed by the United States.

Against this backdrop, it has become incumbent on the peoples of the two countries to restore India-Pakistan friendship and revive the cooperative relationship that prevailed seven years ago.

The Convention pledges to reinforce democracy, ensure socio-economic justice and defend the security as well as the right to life and livelihood of the peoples of the two countries. All these are under threat from the policies of the global hegemon and its accomplices in our two states who are currently wielding the levers of power.

The Convention is perturbed by the fact that hostility and suspicion continue to haunt the two peoples. The PIPFPD regrets that although it is a peoples’ forum, whose objective is to promote fraternal relations between the two countries, it has not been able to assert itself adequately.

The Delhi Declaration of the 2005 Joint Convention had 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 realize its objectives.”

However, due to objective factors beyond the Forum and our subjective weaknesses, these decisions were not implemented. This Convention reiterates its determination to translate these decisions into reality in the coming days. At the same time, it emphasises the need to evolve new strategies and launch initiatives to facilitate people-to-people dialogue and hold regular Joint Conventions without interruption or undue delay.

The Forum also recognises that the participation of mass organisations—including trade unions and peasant groups—in its activities has decreased. It pledges to reverse this as soon as possible.

The shadow of imperialism looms large over South Asia. Peoples’ sovereignty is under peril. The Indo-US nuclear deal has not only circumscribed India’s foreign policy but has also been used to foist, on the Indian people, a hazardous nuclear energy expansion that serves the interests of transnational and US corporations. The United States has, with impunity, conducted attacks inside the territory of Pakistan in blatant violation of its sovereign rights and all international norms. The relationship between the Pakistani ruling elites, including the military, and the United States threatens the fledgling democracy there.

The Convention also took note of and decried the expansionist designs of the Indian and Pakistani governments.

The last two decades have seen a paradigm shift in our development models, where the governments of both countries have adopted neoliberal policies. An integral part of these economic policies has been the abdication of the state’s responsibilities towards its citizens. Instead, the state has become captive to a form of crony capitalism, where public and natural resources are massively appropriated for private profit. These policies have exacerbated poverty and inequality. A vast majority of our peoples live far below the poverty line, while a small elite has enriched itself.

The “war on terror” and these economic policies have fanned the flames of religious fundamentalism. The explosive combination of religion with politics has added to the volatility of the region and threatens the minorities of both countries. Women, children and marginalised sections bear the brunt of these intolerant extremist tendencies.

Our societies have failed to address the deep-rooted structures of patriarchy. Discrimination against women pervades our social life. The PIPFPD once again resolves to address the issue of gender inequality and injustice in the working of the Forum and exhorts our governments to do the same. The Forum also calls upon the governments to repeal all discriminatory laws and make enabling policies to ensure that women enjoy their rights as equal citizens.

The Forum is of the firm opinion that the problem of Kashmir must be resolved in accordance with the wishes of the people on both sides of the Line of Control. One of the most positive developments in this Convention was the substantial presence and active participation of members of the political class and civil society from all parts of Kashmir. The working group on Kashmir specifically demanded an immediate end to the violation of human rights on all sides; unrestricted travel across the Line of Control; opening of communication channels and travel routes; the enhancement of trade relations and people-to-people contacts with an emphasis on students and youth; the demilitarisation of both Kashmirs; an immediate withdrawal of forces from Siachen and its declaration as a peace zone; and the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. The working group also recommended the establishment of a joint forum for peace and democracy of the peoples of both Kashmirs.

The issue of denuclearisation and demilitari-sation in the region has assumed considerable significance in recent times. This Convention demands denuclearisation of South Asia, as part of the struggle for global nuclear disarmament. It also calls for the reversal of the arms race, which is consuming massive resources to the detriment of the peoples of the two countries. Both the Pakistani and the Indian militaries have opposed peace-initiatives. The Forum demands that there should be effective civilian control over the military within the constitutional framework of each country.

The Convention also expressed concern at the media’s role in vitiating India-Pakistan relations. It proposed the formation of a media-cell to mould public opinion in favour of peace, democracy and bilateral cooperation.

The Forum extends its wholehearted support to the growing peoples’ movements for justice and control over their own societies and natural resources. It expresses its concern at the repressive policies adopted by both governments against resistance movements. The Convention condemns the increasing number of disappearances and extra-judicial killings of political activists and human rights defenders in Balochistan. It further denounces the mounting repression in Chhattisgarh, Orisssa, Kashmir, and the North-Eastern parts of India. We call on both governments to eschew violence in favour of peaceful methods and dialogue to resolve these issues.

The Convention held detailed discussions on the following issues: common threats to India and Pakistan—both internal and external; global capitalist hegemony and peoples’ struggles; human security; and Kashmir.

The Forum calls upon the peoples of India and Pakistan to resist global hegemonism, which threatens peace and democracy, and to support peoples’ resistance movements in all parts of the world in a spirit of international solidarity.

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