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EDITIONS
Thursday, 6 June, 2002, 07:51 GMT 08:51 UK
Britons told to leave India and Pakistan
British family at Delhi airport
British families started to leave India at the weekend
The Foreign Office (FO) has advised all British nationals living in India and Pakistan to leave due to the escalating tension over Kashmir.

This revises its advice last Friday that Britons should "consider" leaving both countries.

There is no question that when you have two nations that have nuclear weapons it is a dangerous situation

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said on Wednesday he believed that war between India and Pakistan "was not inevitable" but said it was his duty of care to advise all Britons that they should leave.

International pressure is growing on India and Pakistan to step back from the brink of war, with the US now stepping into the fray.

Tourist advice

Mr Straw, who earlier spoke with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, said: "It remains my view that war between India and Pakistan is not inevitable and with our international partners we continue to do all we can to avert a crisis.

"Given my duty of care towards British nationals and the continuing tensions between the two countries I have decided to make this further change to our travel advice."

The government is believed to be concerned that few Britons took its original advice about leaving and should war break out in the region, it would be too late to get its people out.


Everyone in Delhi is watching the news very carefully

Grace Conacher
Delhi resident

Last week, British nationals currently in either India or Pakistan were asked to consider leaving, because of the "increased risk of conflict".

Visitors to India were warned of the risk of terrorist attack, particularly in the vicinity of key government installations.

On 22 May, the FO pulled out most of its staff in Pakistan and on Friday, it advised tourists to avoid all travel to India and Pakistan.

Grace Conacher, head of personnel at the British Council in Delhi, flew back to the UK on Monday.

Military build-up

She said there was no sense of panic but the FO advice seemed a "sensible precautionary measure".

"Life is carrying on very much as normal but everyone in Delhi watched the news very carefully," she added.

The two nuclear powers have been at loggerheads for some time over the disputed mountainous region of Kashmir, but officials have become alarmed by recent increased troop movements.

The troubled region dominated talks on Wednesday in London between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The two men expressed deep concern about the military mobilisation on both sides.

International diplomacy

Mr Rumsfeld told reporters at the Ministry of Defence: "There is no question that when you have two nations that have nuclear weapons and the situation is as it is between India and Pakistan, it is a dangerous situation."

UK Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, who also met with Mr Rumsfeld, called on both sides to "step back from the brink" of war.

US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is preparing to depart for a crisis mission to Pakistan and India on 6 and 7 June.

On Wednesday, Pakistan spurned Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's proposal of joint patrols along the Kashmir border.

There are about 20,000 British nationals living in India and around 700 in Pakistan.


Are you a British national leaving India or Pakistan? Where will you go? What are your plans?

Email us using the form below.
Have your say

We are awaiting instructions from my husband's employers about where we will go and how

Debra Hindle, India
My husband is in India on secondment. My family do not wish to leave but feel that it will be prudent for the safety of our children. We are awaiting instructions from my husband's employers about where we will go and how we will get there. I hope from the bottom of my heart that India and Pakistan are able to resolve this conflict without war. I am sure that this will be something that neither government can afford.
Debra Hindle, India

I am currently in Mysore in southern India. Although I take the situation seriously, I am not making any plans for departure. It seems that recent world events and the ensuing 'war on terrorism' has heightened Westerners' concerns with regards to personal safety. However, I do not believe that the present India - Pakistan play off of front is being helped by endless hysteria. The two sides need to be shown up for what they are: naughty schoolchildren with new toys and old grudges.
Jo Howlett, UK

We were booked to leave anyway on 2 July. It's difficult to leave sooner because of our children's GCSE and A-level exams taken here, plus all the sooner flights are full! Jack Straw may not realise how difficult it is to just pack up and leave. Does he plan to help 20,000 Brits leave? I doubt it.
Paul Read, India

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's James Robbins
"A lot of people don't want to leave, and the planes aren't filling up"

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See also:

05 Jun 02 | UK Politics
05 Jun 02 | South Asia
31 May 02 | UK Politics
02 Jun 02 | UK Politics
01 Jun 02 | South Asia
01 Jun 02 | South Asia
04 Jun 02 | South Asia
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