After the First-Ever Conference of Indian and Pakistani Writers organised by the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature, the parent organisation of FOSWAL, in 1987 in New Delhi, the Conference of India and Pakistan was organised in Pakistan also, by the Foundation. The Conference titled Pen and Peace was held in the two Pakistani cities of Lahore and Islamabad from 17-24 October, 2003.
The Conference was conceived in the form of a week-long interaction of Indian and Pakistani writers which consisted of two full-fledged Conferences in Lahore and Islamabad, and many formal and informal meetings, lectures, presentations of latest creative writings, media interface, and visits to places of cultural and literary interest to savour the cultural ambience of the two cities and their environs.
The Themes of the Conference were:
• Human Traumas and the Process of Truth and Reconciliation
• Trends in the Literatures of India and Pakistan during the last 55 years.
• Gender-oriented issues in the literature of India and Pakistan.
• Literature of resistance and change.
• Special sessions were devoted to the presentations of poetry and fiction written by the participating writers.
Indian and Pakistani Writers outside the Folklore Institute, Islamabad
Mr. Iftikhar Arif, Chairman of Academy of Letters of Pakistan, Mr. Ahmad Faraz, Chairman of Pakistan National Book Foundation, Ms. Kishwar Naheed, eminent writer, Mr. Minoo Bhandara, eminent Parliamentarian, Dr. Fouzia Saeed, Director Actionaid Pakistan, and various Ministers of Pakistan Government, the Hon’ble Governor of Punjab, Ms. Bjorn Kanavin, Norwegian Ambassador in Pakistan, Dr. Tadatoshi Akiba, Mayor of Hiroshima, Dr. Angelika Loster Loback, Director Heinrich Boll Foundation, Dr. Khalid Aftab, GCU Vice-Chancellor, and Dr. Shahzad Kaiser, several peace activists, media luminaries, Members of Pakistan Parliament, publishers, academicians participated in the Conference with unprecedented enthusiasm.
It must be recalled that the Foundation’s parent organization – the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature – organized the FIRST-EVER INDIAN-PAKISTANI WRITERS’ CONFERENCE in September 1987 in the Triveni Auditorium of New Delhi.
Ajeet Cour reading her short story ‘Chhutti’
The Final Session of the Conference was presided over by Ms. Zehra Nigah, eminent Urdu writer and intellectual. In the session, the Declaration of the Conference (called the Pakistan Declaration) was presented by Agha Nasir, and the recommendations were finalised by Mr. Mohammed Mansha Yad and Ms. Ajeet Cour.
The participants of the Pen and Peace Conference, welcomed this civil society initiative of gathering together of Indian and Pakistani writers and poets eminent women and men – under the auspices of Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature, India, the SAARC Recognized Organization, in collaboration with Hawwa Associates, Pakistan, which was supported by Action Aid; and the Government of Pakistan.
Recognizing and expressing the hope that the interaction of such exchange visits will help to strengthen the cause of peace and normalization of relations between the feuding neighbours,
Accepting that the efforts of writers and intellectuals of the region can help in promoting trust, goodwill and friendship between India and Pakistan;
Recognising that it is primarily civil society which has taken the lead in working towards reconciliation, tolerance, understanding and peaceful co-existence;
Acknowledging that in the context of the rapidly approaching regime of the World Trade Organization, we can no longer erect barriers and boundaries, either economic (agriculture, trade and commerce), or communications (particularly the electronic and print media, through which prose and poetry books, journals, films, theatre, fine arts, music and dance can be disseminated);
Recognising that we can no longer ignore the legal and equity issues surrounding intellectual property rights, patents and access to information or safeguarding copyrights; also that in the age of the satellite and the cable, we cannot conceive of such outdated and farcical notions as media censorship (whether external or self-imposed), “press advice” or “banning” each other’s TV channels;
Reaffirming that the creative ideas, thoughts, writings (prose and poetry), and their creators must be free to travel across geographic boundaries without any limitations.
Recognizing that in the context of increasing military and economic neo-colonialism and imperialism at the global level; and in the context of increasing confrontation, militarization and nuclearization of our sub-continent, we can no longer afford to consider any action other than peace through dialogue;
Here, in Islamabad, at the conclusion of the “Pen and Peace” Conference of Indian and Pakistani litterateurs, we declare that:
• We want an end to the 56 years of hatred and enmity between our governments; We want an end to the nuclear and conventional arms race between our armed forces;
• We want an end to the global oppression of all minority and marginalised groups, the suppression of all liberation movements, and the killing of innocent civilians all over the world;
• We want vastly increased people-to-people contacts and academic exchanges.
• We want that both the governments of India and Pakistan should abolish visa restrictions for writers.
• We call upon the rulers, leaders, legislators, politicians and policy-makers of both our countries to devote their en