Pakistani Bishops: We ask for peace between India and Pakistan

Today the schools in the Kashmir Valley are closed and New Delhi has demanded the release of the pilot captured yesterday by the army of Islamabad. Mgr. Joseph Arshad recalls that "the population suffers the most". This is why he launches an appeal to the whole international community. China expresses concern.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - Given the recent incidents along the border, "I ask the leaders of India and Pakistan to resume peace talks and resolve all issues through dialogue" writes Msgr. Joseph Arshad, Archbishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi and president of the Pakistani Episcopal Conference.

He is appealing for an end to the clashes between the two countries, which were resumed two weeks ago after an attack against Indian soldiers in Kashmir.

He also remembers the pain experienced by the population, often an innocent victim of the decisions made at the top. "The people of Pakistan and India - he underlines - want peace".

Meanwhile, the tension between the two nations shows no sign of diminishing and today the schools within 5 km of the Control Line (the border) were closed. The conflict reached its peak yesterday, when the Islamabad anti-aircraft shot down two Indian jets that illegally entered into Pakistani airspace. One of the two pilots was taken prisoner and shown bandaged and bleeding in a video. The video, uploaded to the official account of the Pakistani Ministry of Information, was then erased following harsh protests from users who described the images as a "vulgar display of a wounded person".

Islamabad's reaction was due to the bombing the day before by New Delhi of a training camp for Islamic militants who carried out an earlier attack in Kashmir. The launch of bombs is the first military action since the last war between the two countries that dates back to 1971, although the Kashmir Valley has been disputed since the partition of 1947.

Today the Indian government calls for the release of the pilot, Wing Commander (Lieutenant Colonel) Abhinandan. In the meantime he has appeared in another video while sipping tea. Even social media, which is becoming increasingly influential in the political debate, are calling for an end to hostilities and launching the hashtag #SayNoToWar.

The clash has aroused the concerns of the countries of the area, above all China. Wang Yi, a state councilor in Beijing, assured that China will continue to play a "constructive role" to reduce tension. What worries most is the fact that India and Pakistan both hold the nuclear bomb. It has been calculated that if an atomic conflict were to start, this would cause at least two billion deaths.

Msgr. Arshad has spoken directly to those in government.  "We expect that the international community would also play its role to eradicate the situation that is causing loss to the dignity of human lives and to avoid ruination of this region that would wipe out everything on this part of earth".

The president of the Pakistani bishops reiterates: "Without giving up in the face of difficulties, we all must seek out and follow every possible way of avoiding war, which always results in sorrow and grave consequences for all. Let us all pray that May Almighty God grant wisdom to the leadership of both countries to resolve their matters in a way that peace and prosperity may prevail, leading to a better future of people in the region and in the world".