ASIA/INDIA - From Pakistan Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha, President of the Pakistan Bishops’ Conference, welcomes Congress Party victory in India

Friday, 14 May 2004

Lahore (Fides Service) - “We welcome the news that Congress Party has won the elections and we hope the party will carry forward and intensify the peace process started between India and Pakistan. This victory is a good omen for dialogue and peace”. Following the announcement of the election results in India, from Pakistan Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha, archbishop of Lahore and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan, voiced his satisfaction to Fides.
“The Baratiya Janata Party - the Archbishop said - was a nationalist party which promoted one religion only, where as Congress Party is open to all religious groups, be they Hindu, Muslim, Christian or other and it has a secular vision of India. It brings with it a baggage of dialogue and respect for different cultural and religious identities of the minority groups. This is why we welcome and appreciate its contribution and hope it will intensify political and economic collaboration between India and Pakistan”.
Archbishop Saldanha continued “We have great hopes that this will enable our Church here in Pakistan to deepen relations with the Church in India from which we have much to learn in the field of social services, pastoral care for youth, pastoral work in the field of communications, and in general Christian formation and evangelisation”.
In the meantime in India, Sonia Gandhi, leader of the Congress Party, is already seen as a Prime Minister, at the head “of a strong government, never before so stable and secular” he said. Sonia Gandhi won also thanks to her two young sons Rahul and Priyanka, who accompanied their mother across the vast country asking for votes to oppose the nationalist right wing which made religious conflict its banner.
“The people of India have shown that they will not give in to fundamentalism and that they believe in the values of democracy and freedom” the spokesman of the Indian Bishops’ Conference told Fides. The BJP was defeated for its economic programme favouring middle and upper class sectors leaving million of citizens impoverished and unemployed and its hostile policies towards religious minorities causing in social tension sociali in several states.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 14/05/2004 Lines: 34 Words: 341)