Amid continuing tensions between India and Pakistan, Indian church leaders have warned that "war hysteria" is gripping their country and have called for dialogue to resolve differences between the two states.
The current dispute follows the storming last month of the Indian parliament complex. The Indian government claims the attack was carried out by Pakistani-backed militants.
While the Indian authorities have failed to rule out military action against Pakistan in their response to the attack, churches in India are urging their government to resolve the issue through dialogue with its neighbor.
"War is not a solution for the existing conflict situation between India and Pakistan," said Geevarghese mar Coorilos, president of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI).
The NCCI is the biggest ecumenical body in India, grouping 29 Orthodox and Protestant churches.
In a statement issued on January 7, mar Coorilos, the assistant metropolitan of the Orthodox Syrian church's Bombay diocese, declared that "peace can be established only by continuing dialogue at all levels."
Ipe Joseph, NCCI general secretary, said, "There is a war hysteria in the country now. It has to be diffused at the earliest." He stated the council's position in favor of exerting "diplomatic pressure on Pakistan."
"India and Pakistan cannot afford another war," he said, referring to the three Indo-Pakistan wars since they became independent in 1947.
At the heart of the tension between the two states is the unresolved issue of the state of Kashmir, in the Himalaya region. Both India and Pakistan lay claim to Kashmir, which has been divided between the two countries since 1949, at the end of the first Indo-Pakistan war.
India claims that Kashmiri separatists, ...1