Indian Christian leaders are proposing dialogue instead of war on the India-Pakistan border following "surgical strikes" by the Indian military against "terrorist units" that India says operates against it from Pakistan controlled areas. Tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors increased following the killing of 18 Indian soldiers nearly two weeks ago. India blamed Pakistan for the attack, a claim that Pakistan has vociferously denied. "War is not a solution, it will only exacerbate the situation," Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara of Faridabad said despite several political factions in India openly favoring military action against Pakistan. Media reported an Indian army official telling reporters Sept. 29 that India launched "surgical strikes" against "terrorist units" along the de-facto border with Pakistan in Kashmir and that it had caused "significant damage." International media has reported Pakistan confirming that two of its soldiers had been killed. Terrorists killed the Indian soldiers Sept. 18 in an attack on an army base in the Uri area of the disputed Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Both India and Pakistan lay claim to Kashmir since the partition of the subcontinent in 1947. Pakistan and India have fought at least three major wars over the region. The Indian government considers Jammu and Kashmir an integral part of India and accuses its neighbor Pakistan of supporting Muslim groups causing unrest in the region. Pakistan has denied this but says they will assist Kashmiri Muslims in their struggle for self-determination. Indian media discussions support a military retaliation while media in Pakistan quote army officials to say that their country is ready for war with India for violating norms and border agreements, and suppressing minority Muslims. The Hindu right-wing Maharashtra Navnirman Sena in India issued a 48-hour ultimatum to all Pakistanis to leave the country, saying that they will be punished if they failed to do so. "If any one is still here, we will hunt him down and send them back," said Amey Khopkar, a leader of the right-wing Hindu group. Such actions do not help, said Archbishop Bharanikulangara whose diocese covers India's border areas with Pakistan. "War does not happen overnight. Such actions only precipitate war, and therefore moves such as these should be avoided," he said. The attack on the Indian army base has led to an outrage in India with the government expressing its anguish in the United Nations against Pakistan. It has also withdrawn from next month's South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation regional intergovernmental organization summit to be held in Pakistan.
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"In the long run, there is no weapon more powerful than an international isolation," said Archbishop Bharanikulangara in a statement. "We have history of world and wars before us. Wars only kill the innocent and cause causalities beyond expectations. No one wins a war," he told ucanews.com. The archbishop said he was "only reiterating the universal church's stand against war" and "that dialogue should be stressed for peace more than any other action." Samuel Jaikumar of the National Council of Churches in India told ucanews.com about the need to "bridge the gap between the two countries and promote peace, harmony and love." "People in Pakistan are not responsible for what some terror groups have done," said the secretary of the umbrella organization of around 30 Protestant and Orthodox churches in India.