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India/Pakistan Dispute - Expression of hope for the success of India-Pakistan summit

11 July 2001

Letter to member churches and councils of churches in India and Pakistan, 11 July 2001.

The World Council of Churches welcomes the Summit Meeting in Agra from the 14-16 July 2001 between the prime minister of India, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the president of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf.

At the Agra Summit the two leaders face an urgent challenge to resolve all outstanding issues to ensure an environment of peace and security. The two neighbours have fought three major wars since they gained independence from the British colonialists in 1947. Caught in a vicious cycle of enmity and hatred, the two have diverted scarce resources towards defence spending in a suicidal arms race that has driven millions of their people into despair and destitution. The nuclear tests carried out in 1998 contributed to further aggravation of tensions between the two countries and caused de-stability in the already troubled South Asian region. High on the agenda of the summit is the resolution of the long-standing festering Kashmir dispute and the dangers posed by nuclear weapons of both the countries, the latter underlining the importance of avoiding a conflict which could spiral into a war, possibly a nuclear war.

Given the history of dismal relationships of animosity and broken promises, the World Council of Churches shares the hope of the churches and the people of goodwill in the two countries that the Agra Summit can help to restore much-needed mutual trust and confidence to overcome the obstacles on the path to peace in the subcontinent. For far too long, the two countries have suffered as a result of the continuous orchestration of mutual hate by a section of the people on both sides. As a result, not enough has been done to create a culture of peace. The summit provides an opportunity for the leadership to pave the way for normal and cooperative relations that can open doors for new opportunities in this period of globalization, to concentrate on accelerating economic growth, social development and justice for their people.

The churches in India and Pakistan together with civil society organizations and people of goodwill have been engaged in efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in the sub-continent. At a time when the World Council of Churches has proclaimed the years 2001-2010 as the Decade to Overcome Violence and has called on Christians and churches to be bridge-builders and to address issues of violence in their own context, it is important that the churches uphold the Agra Summit in their intercessions.

In the name of Jesus Christ the Lord of Peace who has called us to His service,

                                                               Geneviève Jacques
                                                               Acting General Secretary