India-Pakistan Conference: A Road Map towards Peace

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Ayesha Siddiqa, Amitabh Mattoo, Asma Jehangir, and Rajiv Sikri on the podium.

February 16, 2010
India and Pakistan constitute a volatile region of Asia. Distrust, suspicion and hostility has flared into wars and conflict on occasion, and kept relations between the two countries simmering even in the best of times. Efforts to improve bilateral ties in the past few years have been sporadic, although the composite dialogue formalized through a joint a statement between Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf was significant, with tremendous potential. Four rounds were completed and the fifth in progress when the 26th November 2008 attack on Mumbai derailed the entire process that the two governments have not been able to bring back on track. Additionally, some of the provisions of the joint statement at Sharm el Sheikh faced strong opposition in India.

Ever since, people in both countries who are desirous of peace, have been trying to convince their respective governments to make serious attempts to restart the dialogue. The importance of dialogue and communication between the two nuclear armed neighbours cannot be over-emphasised, as war has to be avoided at all costs. And peace ushered in through concerted and calibrated effort. War can destroy the fragile economic and political stability in the South Asian region as a whole, with disastrous consequences for the common people. The dialogue is important because it helps us sort out our problems peacefully. The idea behind organizing this conference for ‘Roadmap Towards Peace’ was to get experts and activists who have spent their lives promoting peace on the same platform to map out a charter for peace and exert pressure on both governments to pursue peace as an ideology and commitment for the development of India, Pakistan and indeed South Asia.

The Conference was announced on 7 January 2010 at the Press Club, New Delhi, India. More than 70 media persons attended the Press meeting, thereby, establishing the relevance of such a process. The minutes of all the three days of the conference have been recorded on paper. The three days Conference was widely covered by the Media in both India and Pakistan. On the third day, a Declaration was drafted based on the proceedings of the Conference which has been disseminated widely on the same evening and also widely carried in the media the following day.

Organisations part of this initiative are:

  • ANHAD
  • Centre for Policy Analysis
  • COVA
  • Focus on the Global South India
  • Heinrich-Böll-Foundation
  • Hind-Pak Dosti Manch
  • Peace Mumbai
  • SAHR
  • SANGAT
  • SAPA
  • Find more information on the conference and media reports on boell-pakistan.org and boell-india.org.

    Die Abschlusserklärung ist auch auf Deutsch erhältlich.

    Foto-Galerie / Picture Gallery

    Declaration: India-Pakistan Conference "A Road Map towards Peace"

    http://www.saarc-sec.org/The discussions in the India-Pakistan Conference: A Road map towards Peace over the last three days have shown how far the public sentiment in both India and Pakistan is inclined towards peace. The participating organizations from both sides of the border represent a vast constituency which is ready to work towards building enduring and sustainable peace between the two countries.

    We believe there is a real window of opportunity today, which must not be wasted. These ideas are presented here in a sincere effort to develop friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

    This conference is not a stand alone event. The participants resolve to work in groups on each of the areas that were identified in the sessions, to further the gains of the conference.

    Road Map towards Peace

    1) Peace Dialogue

    1. Resumption of dialogue and the composite peace process. Once resumed, dialogue should be uninterrupted and uninterruptible, whatever the twists and turns in the relations between the two countries may be.
    2. Consider a suitable location near the border where the talks will be held at regular intervals.
    3. The contents and outcomes of the talks should be as transparent as possible, so that there is accountability to the people of both countries.
    4. There should be coordination amongst the various ministries of the government of India involved and concerned with India- Pakistan relations and policy.
    5. There must be no militarist/chauvinist statements from political or military leadership of the two countries.
    6. Confidence Building Measures: Items long awaiting solution like Siachin, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage need to be settled immediately.
    7. Demilitarize the border between India and Pakistan.

    2) Terrorism

    1. Both countries should work together to counter terrorism and fundamentalism which are common challenges.
    2. Set up joint mechanisms, and share intelligence and related information within the framework of the 1987 SAARC convention on combating terrorism.

    3) Economic Cooperation

    1. Free flow of goods and commodities, encouragement of joint business initiatives.
    2. India must unilaterally open the borders to further facilitate border trade.
    3. Build cooperation on the existing women led initiatives.
    4. India must take initiative to build the trade between the two countries and with the rest of South Asia.
    5. Ease customs and tariff procedures, and issuing of business visas.
    6. Free movement for migrant workers.
    7. Try to formulate a joint economic partnership agreement between India and Pakistan.
    8. Set up more branches of more Indian and Pakistani banks and financial institutions in each others’ territories.
    9. Collaborative approaches on issues relating to WTO and international trade.

    4) Kashmir

    1. Since this is a core issue there must a genuine and urgent effort to find solutions.
    2. Firstly both India and Pakistan must jointly agree to de-militarize Jammu & Kashmir. The Indian government should repeal the Armed forces Special Powers Act.
    3. Withdrawal of troops and punishment of those guilty of crimes against people.
    4. Strengthening of democratic institutions and establish an independent tribunal to ensure Article 370 for Kashmir. Reinstate Article 370 in its original form as a step towards building confidence and goodwill.
    5. Allow Kashmiris to live and work in Pakistan if they wish.
    6. Protect the interests of minorities in J&K. Take the opinions and aspirations of people in all areas in J&K when working out solutions.

    5) Media, Information and Culture

    1. There has to be a self censorship stop hate speech, war mongering in the media
    2. The flow of information, software, know-how, knowledge should be opened up.
    3. Import of books, periodicals, newspapers should be permitted without impediment.
    4. Meeting of senior editors should be held, in effort to lead media away from jingoism.
    5. Media houses should be allowed to station journalists in each others capitals without difficulty
    6. Cultural exchange must be freely allowed and encouraged between the two countries.
    7. Education: Revision of curricula in both countries to encourage friendship, not hate.

    6) Visa regime

    1. Visa free South Asia: The possibility of a visa free regime has been often discussed but not operationalized. Stringent scrutiny can be done without undue restrictiveness.
    2. Opening of consulates in all the major cities of both the countries.
    3. Special facilities for senior citizens and children below 12 years.
    4. Free exchange of scholars, students and technical experts.

    7) Nuclear disarmament

    Roll back on the nuclear program in both countries to establish a nuclear free South Asia and cooperate jointly towards global disarmament.

    8) National and ethnic question

    1. Since this is an important and extremely sensitive question in South Asia, attempts to be made in both countries to find solutions to conflicts around these questions, involving all parties in the dispute.
    2. Facilitate the coming together of academia and civil society to build a better understanding and possible consensus on this issue.
    3. Create space for national and other minorities in all parts of India and Pakistan.

    9) Water resources

    1. Joint management of water resources.
    2. Revisit the Indus Water Treaty in the light of new factors like climate change and its implications based on the principles of equitable sharing rather than division of waters.
    3. Ways need to be explored to optimize use and distribution of waters and energy for benefit of the people of both countries.

    10) Military and Defence

    1. Reduce military spending by at least 10% per year, and divert the savings to the social and development sector
    2. In order to reduce tensions, it is important that military commanders of both countries meet and interact, as part of the peace dialogue.
    3. Joint patrol of borders.
    4. Change the beating retreat ceremony at the Wagah border to reflect peace, not conflict.

    11) Climate Change

    1. Start common initiatives to adapt to the common challenges of climate change.
    2. Cooperation in international negotiations and at SAARC.
    3. Joint approaches towards transfer of technology on renewable energy, adaptation and mitigation. India should assist Pakistan to develop a low carbon strategy and facilitate the transfer of regenerative technologies to Pakistan
    4. Conduct joint research on ecological and climate related issues.

    12) Siachen Glacier must become a zone of peace

    It should be evacuated of army presence altogether. This is important for both for reasons of environmental and also for the sake of soldiers.

    13) SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation)

    Work together to strengthen regional cooperation based on the SAARC charter and its conventions.

    14) Human Rights

    1. Release of all fisher folk currently detained in Indian and Pakistani jails. Stop arresting fisher folk who stray into the other country’s territorial waters.
    2. Release of all political prisoners who have served their term. Review of cases to see that innocents who have strayed over the land border are released.
    3. See that the lives and properties of human rights defenders are protected. Punish those guilty of torture, rape, plunder in the name of security, counter terror, war.

    15) Joint India Pakistan committees must be set up on

    1. Kashmir
    2. Hate speech
    3. Human rights
    4. Distribution of water resources
    5. Prisoners
    6. Military expenditure
    7. CBMs