Catholics in Pakistan

Kashmir issue should be resolved via dialogue- Bishop Ivan Pereira, Jammu-Srinagar

In an interview to the Vatican newspaper, “L’Osservatore Romano”, Indian Bishop Ivan Pereira of Jammu-Srinagar appeals for peace in Jammu and Kashmir after its statehood was revoked by the Indian government last week.

In such a difficult and troubled phase of Kashmir’s history, “it is all the more necessary to reopen the channels and reactivate a constructive dialogue, in order to avoid a new conflict”.

Bishop Ivan Pereira of Jammu-Srinagar makes the heartfelt appeal over tensions escalating in the troubled Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, after the government, through a presidential order on August 5, revoked Article 370 of the Constitution of India, which granted it special status.

Commenting on the confrontation between the two neighbours, Bishop Pereira says that “constructive dialogue is the only way forward and all the actors involved should take it seriously”.

At this moment, Bishop Pereira does not consider recourse to the United Nations an option, suggesting that “since the beginning, the dispute over Kashmir has been a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan”. According to him, the best way forward is “to ensure that the two neighbouring states… reopen bilateral talks”.

For this to happen, he says, “we need to re-establish an atmosphere of mutual trust, otherwise, every attempt will be in vain”. He invites the leaders on both sides to calm and not exacerbate the tensions.

According to Bishop Pereira, “Peace is the source of well-being and prosperity, and is, therefore, the goal of all political action.” “For this reason,” he says, “I make a sincere appeal to the leaders of the two neighbouring nations and to all men of goodwill, that each may contribute, in his own way and within his own means, to the promotion of authentic peace”.

“Peace is convenient for everyone and is an invaluable treasure.”

Since 2015, Bishop Pereira has been heading the Jammu and Kashmir Diocese, where some 70,000 Catholics live. Their pastoral needs are taken care of by about 70 priests.

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