Canada: Golden Jubilee for the Independance of Pakistan and India

in collaboration with the Centre d’études et de ressources sur l’Asie du Sud (CERAS), the South Asia Partnership Canada (SAP Canada), the Pakistan Association of Quebec (PAQ), the South Asian Women’s Community Centre (SAWCC), the National Association of Canadians of Origins in India (NACOI) and the Teesri Duniya Theatre.



The general militarization of South Asia has put new urgency at the peace situation in the region. Although the governments have sought to justify the arms build up in their respective countries in the name of national security, theirs actions serve only to heighten tensions and increase hostilities in the region. Valuable resources that could improve the life of millions of people are instead being squandered on weapons.

There are over a million Canadians with origins in South Asia. They are organised into a vibrant civil society that is very present in the medias and is very concerned with the situation in the region. It appeared important for Alternatives and its partners to mobilize their opinion for a lasting peace in the region.

The year 1997 marked the 50th anniversary of independence of both India and Pakistan. This important historical event can be examined from different perspectives. It marked the end of colonial rule in the sub-continent at the same time it partitioned India into Pakistan and India. This occasion gave Alternatives and its partners the opportunity to rally for the regional peace by celebrating the event for the two countries from the same platform.



The main goal of that project was to develop support for the peace process in South Asia among Canadians, especially those with origins in South Asia. Almost one millions Canadians are originally from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Most of them have maintained strong links with their country of origin. The project tried to mobilize these vast communities in favour of peace and regional cooperation.

In addition, people of Canada have often demonstrated their support for peace in various parts of the world and advocated peaceful solutions to political problems. The project also tried to mobilize the Canadian public in favour of peace and regional cooperation.



Several seminars and conferences with speakers from India and Pakistan were held mainly in Montreal and Ottawa, but also in Toronto and Kingston, during the months of September and October 1997. These seminars, attended by a couple of dozen to several hundred people, addressed several issues affecting the region of Southeast Asia: women's rights, workers' rights in an era of economic globalization, political and cultural rights of minorities, the evolution of culture since independence, popular movements. South Asia classical music shows were also held in Montreal in October 1997 and May 1998.

List of events:

-Struggle against child labor in India. Speaker: Vithal Rajan, Director, Deccan Development Society (Hyderabad, India). September 4th, Ottawa; September 5th, Montreal.

-Communalism and its impact on South Asia. Speaker: K. N. Panikkar, historian (Delhi, India). September 6th, Toronto; September 9th, Kingston; September 10th, Ottawa; September 11th, Montreal.

-Popular movements in Pakistan. Speaker: Muhammad Tahseen, Executive Director of SAP-PK. September 29th, Montreal.

-Globalization and its social impact in India. Speaker: Father Thomas Kocherry, National Alliance of Peoples Movements (India). September 30th, Montreal.

-Crisis of a state and society in Pakistan. Speaker: Eqbal Ahmad, political scientist (Pakistan on October 10th, Montreal.

-Political economy of Pakistan. Speaker: I. A. Rehman, Director, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. October 16th, Montreal.

-Labor movement in Pakistan. Speaker: Karamat Ali, PILER, Pakistan. October 22nd, Montreal.

-Music Extravaganza: Punjabi by Nature. Musical program organized by the youth committee of CERAS. October 31st, Montreal.

-Evening of classical music. A Hindustani classical music program to complete the project. May 9th, Montreal.

1997 - 1998