The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hiroshima horror lessons for -twins

New Delhi, Oct. 14: Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pervez Musharraf have been invited to meet at a neutral venue: Hiroshima. The two leaders at loggerheads are being asked to come to the Japanese city to see “with their own eyes what nuclear weapons have in store for humanity” and search for reconciliation.

The Indian response to the invitation, coming from Hiroshima mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, does not seem too encouraging. Defence minister George Fernandes, who had agreed to meet him this afternoon, called off the appointment “due to some urgent work”. None from the Indian establishment volunteered to take Fernandes’ place.

But Akiba’s spirit has not been dampened. “I urge them (Vajpayee and Musharraf) in the strongest terms to rid their countries of these heinous, inhumane and illegal weapons,” the mayor, who is in Delhi on a peace mission for the past two days, said. He is planning to travel to Islamabad next week and make a similar appeal to the Pakistani leadership.

He suggested to academics and representatives of the leading universities and institutions in Delhi that a course on world peace be introduced to make students and the general public more aware of the dangers of nuclear weapons.

He argued that the “chronic tensions between India and Pakistan make their continued possession of these horrific weapons intolerable”. “A nuclear exchange between these two countries could result in deaths as high as 1.2 billion. Besides robbing countless innocents of their lives, it would dangerously contaminate the environment and propel humanity down the slope to nuclear annihilation,” Akiba said.

“Regarding Kashmir, the sore that continually inflames the friction between India and Pakistan, peace will never come as long as both parties bind themselves to the confining framework of hostility and seek solutions through violence,” the mayor said in a message to the two hostile nuclear neighbours.

“I ask the leaders of India and Pakistan to open your minds to the international calls for a peaceful solution, to break the chain of hatred, violence and revenge, to choose the path towards reconciliation demonstrated by the A-bomb survivors and to solve your problems through dialogue and create future hope for all humanity,” he appealed.

Referring to Vajpayee’s peace initiative with Pakistan early this year, Akiba said: “The point is to start cooperation, no matter how small the effort seems to be. Continued efforts by citizens of both countries will undergird the development of a trusting relationship.”

Akiba is part of the Mayors for Peace initiative, jointly chaired since 1982 by Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only cities in the world to have been hit by atom bombs. The Mayors for Peace initiative has 554 cities in 107 countries as its members, which the organisers claim is a signal of the growing consensus in the world to abolish nuclear weapons.

Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai and Chennai are among the 13 Indian cities that are its members, while Karachi, Quetta, Hyderabad and Peshawar figure on the list as part of the six Pakistani cities in the initiative.

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