Pressure groups write to PM, Musharraf

NEW DELHI, JULY 6. With the Vajpayee-Musharraf summit drawing nigh, more and more pressure groups are coming out with open letters seeking to impress upon the two leaders the sub- continent's need for peace.

Though separated by distances and persuasions, the appeal from different quarters is the same: Spare the continent the ``scourge of a potential nuclear war, grinding, abject poverty and mounting frenzy of religious and nationalist extremism''.

In its open letter to the Prime Minister, Mr. A.B. Vajpayee, and the Pakistan President, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistanis for Peace and Alternative Development (PPAD) have said the threat of war can be removed from the sub-continent only if ``you interact with each other in a spirit of reconciliation, accommodation and sincerity when you meet on July 14-16 in India to discuss outstanding disputes and conflicts that have plagued relations between the two countries since Independence''.

Stating that it would be tragic if this opportunity was wasted through the usual employment of diplomatic manoeuvres, the PPAD has urged the two leaders to bury old nationalist dreams in favour of greater prosperity through trade, cooperative ventures and free exchange of cultural and educational experiences.

Citing the example of Europe, the signatories to the PPAD letter assert that ``borders drenched in blood only a few decades earlier are now positive symbols of national identity''.

The open letter has been written by Pakistanis residing in different parts of the world. The signatories include Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed, an Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science, Stockholm University; Prof. Susan Mussarat Akram, Dr. Nazeer Chaudhry and Prof. Bilal Hashmi from the U.S.; Dr. Ghazala Anwar from New Zealand; Dr. A. H. Nayyar, Mr. Aamir Riaz and Mr. Owais Hasin from Pakistan; Prof. Hassan Gardezi from Canada; and Mr. Ayyub Malik from the U.K.

Welcoming the initiative and calling for cooperation between the two neighbours, the Global Council of Indian Christians - in a separate letter to Gen. Musharraf - has urged the Pakistan Government to immediately repeal all laws that are anti-minority, particularly the Blasphemy Laws.

Besides demanding the removal of anti-minority laws, the letter to the Pakistan President - submitted to the High Commission here - also suggests certain measures that can be adopted to bring lasting peace to the region.