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  May 2019  
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Pakistan: Religious Leaders Appeal for Reconciliation and UN Mediation
March 01, 2019. ‘No to war for Kashmir’

“Let us work together to promote reconciliation and harmony between India and Pakistan. We ask for the opening of a negotiating table, starting with a decisive ‘No’ to war. We ask the international community to help us: a UN mediation is needed today, to avoid further suffering for the people in Kashmir and find a definitive solution to the old question.”

This was the appeal of Fr. James Channan, OP, a Pakistani Dominican responsible for the “Peace Center” in Lahore, committed to promoting interreligious dialogue, peace and harmony in society, reported March 1, 2019, by Fides News Agency. Fr. Channan took part in the conference of religious leaders organized on February 28, 2019, in Lahore by Abdul Kabir Azad, imam of the Royal Mosque in Lahore, attended by over 40 Pakistani religious leaders, including the Archbishop of Lahore, Sebastian Shaw, together with other Muslim leaders, Christians from other confessions, Hindus and Sikhs.

The appeal issued at the end of the conference reads: “We want to tell the world that we are a peaceful nation. As Pakistanis we are united in asking and promoting peace the reconciliation between India and Pakistan. We will work and do our best for peace, for the good, peace, harmony and prosperity of the nation. To love and protect our country is part of our faith.

“We are worried – the religious leaders continue – because of the current tense situation with India. We do not want the war to upset the coexistence and condemn the Indian military actions carried out on our territory. And we strongly condemn terrorism: the Pakistani population deplores and totally rejects all acts of terrorism and extremism that kill innocent people. We are united in supporting the Pakistani government in its peace efforts. In order to build peace, there is no other way but to meet and sit at the negotiating table, tackling problems with dialogue, especially on the painful issue of Kashmir.”

Fr. Channan tells Fides that those present recalled the recent “Islamabad Declaration”, in which 300 Pakistani Islamic leaders condemned all instrumental use of religion to instigate hatred and violence, and then agreed on the urgency of involving the United Nations and other actors who can contribute to the mediation between the governments of India and Pakistan, to facilitate the easing of tensions.