Lahore (Agenzia Fides): "I urge the leadership of Pakistan and India to work to resolve conflicts through dialogue and to work hard to build peace. In the climate of growing political intolerance between India and Pakistan, the population of Kashmir suffers and pays the highest price": this is what Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, Archbishop of Lahore and Chairman of the National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue & Ecumenism (NCIDE), within the Catholic Bishops’ conference declares to Agenzia Fides.
The Archbishop led a delegation of Christians, Muslims and Hindus to the border of Wagha - on the border between Pakistan and India, near the city of Lahore - to launch a special message of peace and harmony between the two countries. The delegation asked for peace in Kashmir and planted an olive tree on the Indo-Pakistani border, to symbolize the birth of a new hope for reconciliation and peace.
Archbishop Sebastian states: "We propose to both governments to choose the path of dialogue and to find a solution. The real success for both countries is to always achieve and promote peace and social harmony. The Kashmir issue cannot be resolved through war and violence: the killing of innocent people is always a defeat for humanity". The Archbishop adds: "Let us be inspired by the passage of the Gospel which says: Blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew, 5.9). We invite all our faithful in Pakistan, and all the brothers of other faiths to pray intensely for this cause. We hope that through our prayers the Lord will illuminate hearts and that political issues can be resolved through talks around negotiating tables".
The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) also expressed deep concern about recent developments in the Indian state of "Jammu and Kashmir", which the government revoked the status of autonomy, turning it into federal territory.
Archbishop Joseph Arshad, at the head of the diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi and president of the "Justice and Peace" commission, asked political leaders in India and Pakistan to "promptly reactivate peace talks and resolve all issues through a peaceful confrontation".
The Archbishop said: "We want peace and justice to prevail for the people of the troubled region of Kashmir". Archbishop Arshad, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan, deplored the unilateral move of the Indian government that "can greatly disturb peace in South Asia and also international peace". "We pray for peace between the two countries", he stressed, appealing "to choose the path of peaceful dialogue in all circumstances".
Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, National Director of the NCJP, said: "The entire Christian community expresses deep solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir. International bodies, in particular the United Nations Security Council and the Human Rights Council, should mediate between Pakistan and India to find a way to overcome the current crisis". (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 23/8/2019)