The 6th Joint Convention

Sixth Pakistan-India Peoples’ Convention on Peace and Democracy,

Karachi, December 12-14, 2003.

In the world we live in today two contradictory conditions operate. On the one hand globalising agenda is pushing for relaxing fiscal barriers and allowing commodity flows. On the other hand domestically government is attempting to control the public and private lives of the people. As a result whereas trade related relaxations are being advocated between India & Pakistan, restrictions on movement of people are yet to be relaxed.

PIPFPD has consistently held the view that people to people contacts are decisive if relations between the two countries are to change for the better. Better relations between India and Pakistan will keep the region free of big power intervention, which is detrimental to both, since outside powers inevitably cater to their own interests. We also know that the two governments rather than realising the futility of persisting with their hostile policies vis a vis each other have been unmindful of the long term consequence of their obdurate mindset. In contrast the people of India and Pakistan share common concerns and problems, be they having to bear the burden of a new global economic order or a new international regime that threatens to take control over our resources, which brings both the people close. In addition a very large body of people of the two countries have family and friends divided by the man-made borders and are denied their right to reunite.

Hitherto we had believed that beginning of dialogue between the two countries would pave the way for improving and increasing people to people relations. There is need to shift the focus. Our experience shows that rather than state to state dialogue heralding people to people relations, it is the reverse which is true namely that it is burgeoning people to people relations that will compel our rulers to change their ways. Therefore, PIPFPD is convinced that unless the people break this logjam created by the rulers of the two countries, peace and democracy stands threatened and our people’s capacity to withstand imperialist onslaught would be compromised. We want the restrictive visa and travel regimes currently in place to be done away with and for this concerted and coordinated mass action be initiated by PIPFPD and likeminded organisations in the two countries.

With this in mind PIPFPD has to shift its focus to issues such as the right of the families to reunite; to work towards a totally visa-free regime; for opening more border points to enable the people to travel by land route; to dismantle the regime of prior clearance by different ministries for issuing visas to persons participating/attending seminars or workshops; to end restrictions on trade of books/magazines and all kinds of cultural exchanges between the two countries; to remove land mines and other impediments; to ensure easy access to students to study in educational institutions / universities; to allow access to health services for people of the two countries to avail; to allow people to send money to their relatives & friends without prior Central Bank clearance.

In short we demand that we be allowed to freely exchange ideas and opinions on all matters that vitiate official relations between the 2 countries, because the most intractable problems can be resolved by people unencumbered by paranoic national security mindset that seeks to prolong the inequitous and unjust rule by controlling lives and liberties of people.

Consequently, the Forum’s India Chapter has adopted the following slogan for the upcoming 6th Joint Convention of PIPFPD:

‘Defy the Divide, Unite for Peace’…

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