ASIA/INDIA - India and Pakistan to discuss peace, nuclear disarmament, disputed Kashmir region and persisting problem of drug trafficking

Friday, 23 April 2004

New Delhi (Fides Service) - While the people of the Republic of India are focussing on legislative elections now taking place, positive signals of peace come from the leaders of India and Pakistan, the two main political and economic powers in southern Asia. India’s foreign minister announced that he has accepted his Pakistan counterpart’s invitation to meet 25 and 26 May to discuss nuclear disarmament and the disputed Kashmir region. A month later, 15 and 16 June there will be talks about the serious problem of drug trafficking shared by both countries.
Earlier this month India’s Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee voiced his determination to reach a lasting peace agreement with Pakistan and to launch an era of prosperity for the entire region. He said good relations between India and Pakistan were fundamental for the development of Southern Asia still prone to chronic poverty. “We want peace to be lasting. We are neighbours and we must live side by side. Peace is essential for development”, the Prime Minister said.
The announcement of upcoming talks between India-Pakistan were presented as a personal success of the Prime Minister, while voters in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar the first two states in the nation wide poll, are in the midst of casting votes.
With regard to Kashmir the Premier said “the separatists do not want democracy. We will wait and see the outcome of fair and free elections as the people cast their votes”.
Indians are called to elect members of both the national Parliament and state assemblies, posts for which also Christians are standing. Five lay Catholics are on the voting list for Parliament and for Karnataka state assembly. The Bishop of Mangalore in Karnataka state issued a Letter to the faithful urging them to exercise their right of vote and to vote for candidates who promise to protect minority rights and work for the common good.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 24/4/2004 lines 30 words 325)