NATIONAL CHRISTIAN ACTION FORUM
Bishopˇ¦s House 1, Lawrence Road Lahore-5400, Pakistan
OPEN LETTER TO MR. GEORGE W. BUSH,
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITES STATES OF AMERICA
The whole world looked upon the start if the third millennium with hope, All were expecting that violence and wars of the previous century would not recur. As it is said in the Holy Bible:
ˇ§They shall not beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooksˇ¨. ˇ§Nation shall not lift sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any moreˇ¨
But unfortunately, in the very first year of the new century, the two world Trade Towers in New York were destroyed and the pentagon in Washington D.C. was attacked.
What the perpetrators of these terrorist attacks wanted to provoke a clash of civilizations, or a conflict between these religions.
As expected, the U.S.A. and its Allies began the war on terrorism on a global scale, because terrorists are spread out throughout the world and are active everywhere.
The first phase of the war on terrorism was to oust the Taliban from Afghanistan. The latest is to remove Saddam Hussein from Iraq.
We, the leaders of all Churches in Pakistan, are concerned that should the war begin it will provoke a global backlash of people who consider the people of Iraq as victims of aggression.
Already the reasons for attacking Iraq are being challenged by people even in the United States and Britain. The Pope, Bishops of the US and British bishops have openly opposed this war, for various reasons.
One reason for bitterness is the 500,000 children who died in the past few years due top sanctions against Iraq, which prevent adequate supplies of food and medicines.
Loud and clear voices all over the world are appealing for a peaceful settlement of the problem and calling for, what the Iranian President Khatami calls, the ˇ§Dialogue of Culturesˇ¨.
One aspect of this dialogue would be to examine the causes of frustration that have to lead to terrorism. There are economic causes. For instance, 8 billion US dollars are spent every year on cosmetics, whereas 6 billion dollars a year would be enough to provide health cover education of primary school age all over the world.
Again 15 billion dollars are spent on food for cats and, dogs, birds and fish whereas 60,000 children die everyday due to lack of nourishment.
We know that 20% of the worldˇ¦s population consumes 80% of the worldˇ¦s energy resources. Such economic disparities are causes of frustration.
This becomes all the more tragic when we realize that about 40 to 200 billion US dollars will be spent on the Iraq war. Could not this money be better used for education, health, housing and food for millions of people deprived of such basic necessities.
We all realize that no matter what semantic niceties (such as ˇ§Surgical Strikesˇ¨, ˇ§sterilized warˇ¨, ˇ§precision bombingˇ¨ and collateral damageˇ¨) are used, the Iraq war may cause hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties. It is very likely that nuclear or biological weapons will probably be used by whichever side begins to lose.
And even more horrifying is the likelihood, that the war may not be limited to Iraqi soil. It can spill over, not just to the neighboring Gulf States, but can lead to devastating reprisals by terrorists who are located all over the world, even in the United States.
As Christian leaders of Pakistan, we strongly urge the US president Bush and all those who are poised for war, to use every alternative means to settle the problem. Violence breeds violence. A nuclear holocaust must be avoided, lest the medicine proves to be worse then the disease.
Finally, we urge all Christians to begin a period of fervent prayer and fasting, together with the people of all faiths, so that the danger of war may recede, and that the prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6) may give us that ˇ§Peace which the world cannot giveˇ¨
THE LEADERS OF THE CHURCH IN PAKISTAN
Mr. Victor Azariah Archbishop Lawrence J. Saldanha
General Secretary, President, Pakistan Catholic Bishops Conference
Nation Council of Churches in Pakistan Roman Catholic Church in Pakistan
(Representing All Protestant Churches) (Representing the Catholic Church)