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Friday, 31 March, 2000, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
India accused over peace walk
Wagah border crossing
India will not allow the group to walk across the border
By Shahid Malik in Lahore

The Pakistan branch of a cross-border peace group has criticised the Indian Government's decision not to allow about 200 Pakistanis to walk across the border to India to participate in the group's fifth convention.

Pakistan in crisis
The India-Pakistan Peoples Forum for peace and democracy has been holding its meetings alternately on both sides of the border for almost five years.

Past venues have included the Indian cities of Delhi and Calcutta as well as Lahore and Peshawar in Pakistan.


Indian soldier in Kashmir
Tension between India and Pakistan has been high
On at least two occasions, the participants, mainly consisting of human rights workers, representatives of various professions and retired civil and military officials, crossed over to the host country on foot from a point near Lahore.

But speaking to the BBC in Lahore on Friday, the chairman of the Pakistan branch of the Forum, I A Rehman, said he was unhappy with the Indian Government's decision not to allow this facility to 200 Pakistanis to travel to Bangalore to attend the forum's fifth three-day convention starting on 6 May.

Mr Rehman said that the ritual of walking across the border was a symbolic gesture to promote the concept of people-to-people contact.

But he said the Indian authorities have not put up a cogent explanation for their decision at a time when on-going tension between the two countries had made such contacts even more important.

In view of the limited public transport facilities between India and Pakistan, he said around 100 participants out of a total of 235 were now likely to make alternative travel plans.

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