PIPFPD has been a pioneering peoples’ platform that has consistently impacted the political and people-to-people relations between Indian and Pakistan since early 1990s. The initiative towards formation of PIPFPD as a membership-based organization was taken in late 1993 and the first joint declaration was announced on September 4, 1994 at Lahore. The objective of this initiative was to facilitate common people in both the countries to listen to voices that are different from the belligerent voices of the respective Governments.
It is with the objective of asserting the sanity of the peace loving people of India and Pakistan that concerned citizens and groups in both the countries have come together to formulate strategies for promoting peace and strengthen democracy in the sub-continent. Democratic rights activists, business people, trade unionist, environmentalists, women’s movements, artists, writers, social workers, professionals, academicians, students, scientists and mass movements have joined hands in a concerted attempt to persuade their respective governments to enter into meaningful negotiations and adopt policies that will reduce tensions and pave way for lasting peace and friendship.
To this end, the Forum has organised so far eight Joint Conventions, the first in Delhi February 1995, the second in Lahore in November 1995, the third in Calcutta in December 1996, the fourth in Peshawar in November 1998, the fifth in Bangalore in April 2000, the sixth in Karachi in December 2003, the seventh in Delhi in February 2005 and the eighth in Allahabad in December 2011. Each convention was attended by an average of 350 delegates.
The principles laid out in the initial PIPFPD Declaration of 1994 are even more relevant today than they were then: that the “politics of confrontation between India and Pakistan has failed to achieve benefits of any kind for the people” of the two countries, and that the respective governments should honour the wishes of their people who “increasingly want genuine peace and friendship.”
Better relations, said the declaration, “will help in reducing communal and ethnic tension” and “will help the South Asian region to progress economically and socially.” The declaration urged the governments of Pakistan and India to “agree to an unconditional no-war pact immediately” and to recognise that “a democratic solution to the Kashmir dispute is essential.”
Over 200 Pakistani and Indian delegates participated in the groundbreaking First Joint Convention in New Delhi in 1995. For the first time, Indians and Pakistanis sat together to freely discuss the contentious issues of Kashmir, demilitarisation, and the politics of religious intolerance. The PIPFPD’s formulation about Kashmir is now part of public discourse: that Kashmir should not be viewed merely as a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan but as a matter of the lives and aspirations of the Kashmiri people, who must be involved in any discussion about their future.
The forum collectively agreed to work on five major issues: