India-Pakistan peace movement launched

Submitted by AWL on 28 June, 2002 - 11:01

War between India and Pakistan over the disputed territory in Kashmir is still a possibility. India has been pressing for Pakistan to act against Kashmiri "militants" - the Pakistani trained and supported Islamic jihadi groups, one of which attacked the Indian Parliament in December 2001. A visit by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld backed up Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf's promise to act against the Islamists. India has now pulled back some of its war ships.

Kashmir has been a focus for Indian and Pakistan rivalry since 1947. The countries have gone to war three times over the territory. Kashmir is divided into areas controlled by Pakistan and India. (And an unpopulated area is under Chinese rule). The border between the two parts is called the "Line of Control". India wants this border to be recognised as a legitimate international border. Pakistan claims greater territory. The majority of Kashmiris probably want complete independence.

There is a wide range of separatist groups in Kashmir - perhaps still the majority are secular nationalist in orientation. Some Kashmiris, particularly the Hindu minority, want to stay with India. Some Kashmiris want to go with Pakistan. This rivalry and conflict will not subside as long as reactionary and communalist governments are in power in India and Pakistan. The post-September 11 political climate has allowed India to press hard for its claim against Pakistan and this makes war more likely.

Below we print two reports from the socialist Labour Party of Pakistan. The LPP has joined with left groups in India as well as other groups in Pakistan to organise a cross border peace movement.

This is a tremendous step forward. Peace demonstrations were held simultaneously in Pakistan and India on Saturday 15 June. The demands on the demonstrations differed in each country - that in Pakistan emphasised self-determination for Kashmir. Most of left in India does not accept the idea of Kashmiri independence.

Delhi

A report by the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)

Peace demonstrations were organised on 13 June in Delhi, Lucknow, Patna, Ranchi, Kolkata, Vijaywada and Chennai and several other centres of the country.

Addressing the peace marchers in Delhi CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya called for the demobilisation of troops from the India-Pakistan border, complete restoration of all diplomatic ties and resumption of direct bilateral dialogue with Pakistan. He condemned and protested against the Bush-Blair's imperialist intervention in the subcontinent.

Representatives of other Communist and democratic organisations including the Socialist Unity Centre of India, CPI(ML)-Red Flag and CPI(ML)-Unity Initiative also joined it.

Dipankar Bhattacharya said that the "BJP government was itching for war, but thanks to the pressure exerted by the peace loving people in India and Pakistan and the subcontinental diaspora, the war moves have been stalled for the time being. The government has been forced to beat a partial retreat. The Vajpayee government must be pressurised to adopt concrete measures like demobilisation of troops and resumption of dialogue with Pakistan.

To set the stage for free and fair elections in Jammu and Kashmir, state repression must be brought to an end and general amnesty granted to all political activists who are currently languishing in Indian jails.

It is indeed ironical that the Bush and Blair administrations, two of the biggest suppliers of weapons to the region, are being lauded as brokers of peace.

Lahore

By Moazzam Bhatti

A peace demonstration called by four left parties in Pakistan demanded an immediate halt to all war preparations from the borders of India and Pakistan. It demanded an immediate withdrawal of all forces from the borders, a de-escalation of tension and the right of self determination of the Kashmiri nation. It also demanded an immediate withdrawal of all American and other imperialist forces from the region.

The demonstration in Lahore, of around 1,000, was called by the National Workers' Party, Labour Party Pakistan, People's Party (Shaheed Bhutto) and Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party. Several trade union federations, human rights activists and social organisations also took part. A large numbers of women organisations including Women Workers' Help Line and Women Action Forum were present along with trade unions activists.

Police in large numbers were present but did not intervene.

The speakers from the different parties stressed the need for left unity in Pakistan to fight for peace and social justice in the region. They spoke of the need to deescalate the tension and held the American President's policies responsible for the recent tension between India and Pakistan. They spoke against nuclearisation of the region and demanded a reduction in defense expenditures.

Speakers were delighted that the Indian left parties have agreed to have a common day of action in the region. They said that more united action of the left forces in India and Pakistan will be organised in future. They called the forces to be withdrawn from the borders and to open up the borders for the citizens of the region. The speakers called for trade relationships between the two countries.

It was the first united action of the left parties of Pakistan. It helped to strengthen the confidence of the left forces that something can be done.

Contact Labour Party Pakistan:
(http://www.labourpakistan.org)

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