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.
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:
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.
The joint committee on Kashmir will attempt to organise a meeting where representatives of Kashmir from both sides of the LOC can come together.
Activities will be undertaken which educate people and decision makers about the facts and real issues about Kashmir and the urgency for resolving the conflict. In particular it is recommended that a newsletter should be published by the Forum. The joint committee should also organise meetings with parliamentarians to acquaint them with issues on Kashmir which concern peoples of India and Pakistan.
Given the lack of gender justice in the legal systems of the two countries, the Forum decided to formulate a Joint Charter of Egalitarian Principles which will be the determining factor in civil, religious and personal laws in both countries. It shall campaign and lobby with the governments and the citizens of the two countries to commit themselves to this charter.