R E S O L U T I O N passed at the First Visa-Free and Peaceful South Asia Convention, New Delhi, 7-8 August 2005

R E S O L U T I O N passed at the First Visa-Free and Peaceful South Asia Convention, New Delhi, 7-8 August 2005

RESOLUTION passed by delegates from India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan in the `Visa-free and Peaceful South AsiaConvention' held in New Delhi from August 7 to August 8, 2005 :

We, the delegates of this convention hereby resolve that the following steps be taken both by civic society and the governments of South Asia:

1. Relations among the countries of South Asia be further strengthened and the peoples of these countries be given full freedom to meet each other. For this, these countries should become visa-free so that the common socio- cultural and historical heritage of the region is taken forward, trade is enhanced and the countries of SAARC
move towards giving shape to the idea of an economic union. It is further resolved that in the present circumstances students and teachers of schools, colleges and universities be given top priority in the granting of visas, keeping in view the above stated objective.

2. Democratic values be strengthened in these countries and rights of the people be protected especially in the context of women, and deprived sections of society. Laws discriminatory towards these sections in these countries be repealed forthwith and positive steps be taken in this direction.

3. Steps should be taken to restore democracy in Nepal and Bhutan, for, in our opinion, monarchy is a major hurdle in the overall sustainable development of these countries. We whole heartedly support the struggle for democracy and for the formation of a constituent assembly being carried out by the political parties in Nepal. The problems of Nepal should be resolved in a peaceful and people-friendly manner. Further, the citizens of Bhutan waging a struggle for democracy in their country and forced to live in exile should be unconditionally allowed back into Bhutan.

4. We believe that what is stated above is possible only if there is peace in the region. For this, it is imperative that all countries of South Asia resolve to stop the militarization of the region, and India and Pakistan put an end to all nuclear weapons. All the countries should stop any increase in their defense budgets; they should take steps to bring about a decrease of a minimum of 10% per annum in this budget and allocate the resources thus saved for issues of concern to the common man such as health and education. Moreover, the expenditure on defense should be publicly transparent.

5. India and Pakistan should agree on the creation of a Nuclear-Weapons Free Zone in South Asia on a time bound basis. Further the SAARC states should conclude a South Asian No-War pact to facilitate South Asian economic cooperation.

6. No country of the region should get into any agreement with any super power that is likely to create a danger for the autonomy and sovereignty of any of these countries.

7. All the problematic issues among the SAARC countries should be resolved by way of talks without resorting to arms. In this context, the problem of Jammu and Kashmir be resolved after taking into consideration the wishes and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

8. Given the common socio-cultural and historical heritage of the region, the activities of communal and fundamentalist forces in any of these countries are likely to have repercussions for the rest of the region. We therefore resolve that for peace and friendship to be sustained in the region, the nefarious designs of all such forces be challenged and all progressive forces be strengthened in the region.

9. We believe that the processes of globalization go against the rights of the common man and create hurdles in the way of the autonomy of the region. The multinational companies, propped up by these processes, use the natural resources of water, land and forests of these countries for their own profit and thus encroach upon the legitimate rights of the people. We therefore resolve to support all pro-people movements in their struggle against the forces of globalization acting under the directions of WTO, World Bank and IMF. We also oppose the veto powers of representatives on bodies like IMF, World Bank, UNO and WTO, for they go against the spirit of democracy.