:: Thursday, June 13, 2002 ::


  LONDON JUNE 8. In an impressive show of unity, the U.K.-based Indians and Pakistanis joined hands today and called upon the leadership in the two countries to pull back from their current standoff, start "meaningful'' negotiations to resolve the Kashmir dispute and end the nuclear arms race in the region.

They also protested the "continuing'' British arms supplies to India and Pakistan, and demanded a "blanket'' embargo saying the present policy based on Britain's commercial interests made a "mockery'' of its claim to pursue an "ethical'' foreign policy. The demand was supported by the Campaign Against Arms Trade, an independent group of British pacifists whose supporters include Labour and Liberal Democrat activists.

Hundreds of Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans held a peace rally outside Downing Street on Saturday and later submitted a memorandum to the Indian and Pakistani High Commissions voicing their "deep concern'' at the prospect of war. The memorandum, jointly addressed to the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the President, Pervez Musharraf, chastised them for threatening to plunge the subcontinent into a war.

While ordinary people in our countries face dire poverty, communal and sectarian attacks on the basis of religion, gender and caste oppression, your governments have sought to maintain this status quo and bolster your legitimacy with claims to protect national honour by resorting to war and diverting precious resources,'' it said, calling for withdrawal of "all violent and repressive forces'' by both sides. A peaceful solution to the Kashmir dispute could be found in a situation of "genuine peace'' in the region, and with the people of Kashmir being given a "central role'' in any negotiations.

Representatives of 15 India-Pakistan groups, organised under the umbrella of the South Asia Solidarity Group, signed the memorandum and joined the "human chain'' outside Downing Street. In a separate petition to the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, they urged him not to let his government push India and Pakistan "further towards nuclear destruction'' and suspend arms supplies to the two countries.

:: Alister | 2:30 pm | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | |


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