[Reader-list] Stop selling arms

Anjali Sagar starchild at anjalika.demon.co.uk
Thu Jun 6 06:32:45 IST 2002

Dear friend,

As soldiers trade mortar fire across Kashmir's disputed border
and peasants flee the area, British leaders are at odds about
whether they should continue to allow the sales of weapons and
aircraft to India and Pakistan.  Roger Berry, the chairman of the
Commons committees investigating arms exports, has said that the
conflict between the two countries was "as clear a case you could
get" for an arms ban.  But Jack Straw continues to justify the
sale to India of 66 Hawk aircraft -- which can be used to train
soldiers for nuclear bombing raids -- on the basis of "British
commercial interests."

It's time to embrace a policy of common sense: Britain will not
aid and abet this war mongering; "commercial interests" do not
take precedence over the lives of thousands of Kashmiris and
millions of Indians and Pakistanis.  As long as British arms make
their way into the arsenals of these nuclear rivals, attempts to
broker peace are hypocritical.  As the Guardian points out, the
UK would be "making peace in conflicts which our own arms exports
may have helped to exacerbate."

Given the rift in the national leadership, we have a real
opportunity to make a difference if we act quickly.

Please contact your MP and ask him/her to support an immediate
weapons embargo on India and Pakistan and to make your concerns
known to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

You can do this at:


If that doesn't work, you can look up the relevant contact
information at:


You can also contact Jack Straw directly:

Fax: 020 7272 2144
Mail: House of Commons, London SW1A OAA
Email: strawj at parliament.uk

Patricia Hewitt, Dept Trade and Industry, can be reached at:

Fax: 020 7215 5468
Mail: House of Commons, London SW1A OAA
Email: npst.hewitt at dti.gsi.gov.uk

Even a short message is better than none at all. And the more you
communicate in your own words, the more attention will be paid to
your call to action.

In your message, you may want to highlight some of the following
talking points:

* The British government is hardly a passive bystander in the
arms trade.  To the contrary, as author Arundhati Roy put it:
"Tony Blair's 'peace' mission a few months ago was actually a
business trip to discuss a one billion pound deal . . . to sell
Hawk fighter-bombers to India. Roughly, for the price of a single
Hawk bomber, the government could provide 1.5 million people with
clean drinking water for life."

* By most estimates, a nuclear exchange between the two
countries would leave 12 million dead and over 7 million
seriously wounded.  Britain must do everything in its power to
restrain the two countries from such violence; an arms embargo
would emphasize that the nation is serious in its demand for a
peaceful resolution.

* Even if a nuclear attack doesn't occur, a conventional war
would still devastate Kashmir and result in the deaths of
thousands of innocent non-combatants.  In these deaths, the UK
would be especially culpable, since some are likely to be
inflicted with British-made weaponry.

* According to scotsman.com, the military firm BAe has sold
fighter jets to India and is also currently training Pakistani
troops in air combat.  Providing such aid to both sides can only
increase the damage that will occur if war breaks out.

* In 2001, the combined military expenditure of India and
Pakistan was 18 billion dollars.  Yet over 40% of their
populations -- 450 million people -- live below the poverty line.
Britain shouldn't encourage this irresponsible spending behaviour.

Once you've taken action, please let us know at:


Keeping a good count will help us enhance this lobbying effort.
You can also sign up there to receive future email alerts on
this and other peace-related topics.

And please encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same
by forwarding this email to them.

Thank you for your help.  Together, we can ensure that Britain
stops fanning the flames of South Asian conflict.


--Eli Pariser
 9-11Peace Campaign
 Thursday, June 6, 2002

P.S. If you'd like to make even more of an impact, consider
attending this event on Saturday at 10 Downing St:

South Asia Solidarity Group:

"No War in South Asia!"
"Stop British Arms Sales to India and Pakistan!"
"Vajpayee and Musharraf Must Negotiate!"

Mass Protest outside Downing Street and
Human Chain Against War and Communalism
Saturday 8 June
11.30am to 2.00pm

Contact by telephone at 020 7267 0923 or by email at
southasia at hotmail.com for more information.

This is a message from the 9-11peace campaign of MoveOn.org
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