United States urged to stop Iraq war
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United States urged to stop Iraq war

Kaunda was addressing a conference in New Delhi on Monday to commemorate the centenary of 'satyagraha'.

india Updated: Jan 29, 2007 16:26 IST

A strong plea to US and Britain to "stop the war" in Iraq was made by elder statesman and former President of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda to a thunderous applause at an international conference in New Delhi on Monday to commemorate the centenary of 'satyagraha'.

"I appeal to President Bush and Prime Minister Blair to stop this war," Kaunda said in his clarion call at the conference attended by Nobel laureates, world leaders and eminent Gandhians to mark hundred years of the non-violent movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa.

The Nobel laureates included former President of Poland Lech Walesa and Prof Mohammad Yunus of the Gramin Bank of Bangladesh. Former Palestine Foreign Minister Nasser al Kidwa also addressed the meet inaugurated by Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

She said it would be a "grave error to write off the Gandhian approach as irrelevant to our age .... The challenge for us now is to find creative inspiration from Gandhian ways to evolve a satyagraha appropriate to our times".

Gandhi's remark was preceded by the question whether the way shown by the Mahatma was feasible at all today. Can it prevail against terrorism and extremism?

Walesa, the trade union leader of the port and dock workers in Poland who fought the Soviet might, said that victory came to them when they adopted the path shown by Mahatma.

He said India and South Africa should not appropriate the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi as he belonged to the whole world.

While a number of UPA leaders, including those of the Left which is supporting the coalition from outside were present, no one from the Opposition was there as the Congress, which has organised the meet, said it was a "party event".

Mohammad Yunus of Gramin Bank, who has created a silent revolution in Bangladesh through micro-credit network, said that given the will, a world could be created in which "poverty exists only in the museum".

The inaugural function also saw Ela Gandhi, grand-daughter of the Mahatma and MP from South Africa, underlining Mahatma's belief that there was goodness in every soul.

However, it was Kaunda who stole the show by his passionate speech as also his touching rendering of a song at the end, expressing confidence that the 'Great Africa' would overcome the scourge of HIV/AIDS.

Though Nelson Mandela did not attend, in a video-recorded message, he cited "strange coincidence" between September 11, 1906, when the Mahatma launched the satyagraha in South Africa and the 9/11 terror strike in the US.

Gandhian message holds the key to human survival in the 21st century, he said.

The Zambian leader also wanted Hamas and Fatah to resolve their differences and work towards peace.

In a passionate plea, Kaunda said that it was time to stand up and to say "no to war, war-mongers, warlords and arms dealers".

Stating that it was time to pursue the path of peace, Kaunda asked Al-Qaeda to realise that Islam espouses love and peace.

He also wanted US and Britain to understand that their citizens have not become more secure following actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister AK Antony underlined the relevance of the Gandhian thought in the present era.

First Published: Jan 29, 2007 16:26 IST