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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 11 New Delhi March 2, 2019

Joint Statement by the National Committees of PIPFPD of India and Pakistan

Sunday 3 March 2019

The following is the Joint Statement by the National Committees of the Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy of India and Pakistan issued on February 26, 2019 from Lahore and New Delhi (also Mumbai, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Jammu, Bhubaneshwar and Srinagar).

We, the members of Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD), from India and Pakistan, note with seriousness and strongly condemn the claims of the Indian Government of air strikes and bombing in settled districts of Pakistan beyond the LoC. We demand both the governments of India and Pakistan to show restraint and avoid any war-like situation. We further demand immediate measures from both sides to de-escalate the situation and de-militarise borders by withdrawing troops to the peace time level.

The PIPFPD, from India and Pakistan, unequivocally condemns the massacre of more than 45 CRPF personnel at Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir. We are also appalled at the large-scale killings of the police, Army personnel, civilians and members of non-state armed groups, in diverse instances that followed the Pulwama killings. We are shocked and pained at the number of human lives that is lost to guns, IEDs, missiles, bombs, pellet guns, stones, etc. in the Kashmir Valley—especially in the increased instances over the last few years, since 2016.

Members of the PIPFPD, from both countries, are deeply concerned about the situation arising because of the escalation of violence. The Forum takes serious note of the high emotional outpouring and war-mongering on both sides further giving rise to fundamentalists and extremist elements. It is perturbed about the increasing incidents of violence and vindictive action against Kashmiris in particular and Muslims in general by the state and non-state actors in India. Ironically, despite a very delayed mention by the PM of India, senior members of the Indian Government have not shown any meaningful or strong signs of restraint or resolve to discourage such violent elements and occurrences.

The Forum recognises that the failed policies of both India and Pakistan in addressing the Kashmir issue is at the core of the problem. It has led to militarised means being prioritised over political dialogue and resolution. This has led to continuous loss of lives and created a war-like situation in both the civilians’ areas as well as border areas. A large number of lives have already been lost to this. The PIPFPD believes in political resolution through dialogue and demands that the governments of India and Pakistan initiate meaningful dialogue involving the Kashmiri leadership from both sides, addressing the issue bilaterally. The Forum believes that Kashmir is not a territorial dispute between two states. India and Pakistan must recognise the Kashmiri people’s aspirations and allow the Kashmiri people belonging to all ethnic and religious communities and regions to participate in a dialogue to find an honourable and a dignified solution. Till that dialogue happens, a ceasefire-based peace process must be initiated to prevent the future loss of lives. For this, it is imperative that Kashmir on both sides shall be demilitarised, providing opportunity to Kashmiris from both sides of the border to meet freely and start their life free of fear and subjugation.

The Forum demands that the Government of Pakistan move beyond the rhetoric of the anti-extremism narrative to meaningful and substantive actions against all proscribed groups, terrorist organisations and their handlers. Ironically while those organisations have been taking responsibilities of such acts of terror, including the Pulwama suicide attack, the Pakistan Government has shown no will to take necessary actions against those forces operating from its soil. The members of the PIPFPD demand that all genuine concerns raised by the Government of India must be taken seriously and investigated at the highest levels. This is the time that both states must move beyond rhetoric and show clear and unfettered resolve against extremism be it the Islamic armed outfits or the Hindutva ones.

It in this backdrop and the unfortunate reality that the PIPFPD announces the postponement of the Ninth Joint Convention that was to be held from March 15-17, 2019 in Lahore, Pakistan. We believe holding of this Convention is not possible in the current circumstances, where peace activists are threatened and space for people to people dialogue is highly squeezed. Members of the PIPFPD are determined to hold the convention in coming months.

[The PIPFPD is a 25-year-old membership-based peace platform with thousands of members and supporters in India and Pakistan. It has so far held eight Joint Conventions in India and Pakistan, with hundreds of delegates from both countries participating.]

Issued by: Mohammad Tahseen, Convener, PIPFPD, Pakistan

Dr I.A. Rehman, Chairperson, PIPFPD, Pakistan

Tapan Bose and Dr Syeda Hameed, Co-Chairpersons, PIPFPD, India

Vijayan M.J., General Secretary, PIPFPD, India

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