Monks to march for peace from Pakistan to India

LAHORE: Ten Buddhist monks plan to start a three-month march from Pakistan to central India next week to urge peace between the nuclear-armed rivals. The 10-member group, led by Japanese monk Terasawa Junsei and including participants from Chechnya, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Ukraine, plan to start their March from Taxila near Islamabad next Tuesday. "India and Pakistan must not convert this region of great civilisation into a graveyard of nuclear devastation," Junsei, a veteran peace marcher, told reporters in Lahore.

The date chosen for the start of the 1,280-km march is the anniversary of the first atomic bombing of Japan by the United States in World War Two. Wearing flowing orange and yellow robes over every day clothes, the monks played peace tunes on traditional musical instruments as they crossed into Pakistan from India near Lahore.

In Pakistan, the group will visit historic Buddhist sites in Mardan, Swat and Azad Kashmir to pray for peace. The marchers plan to cross into India on September 15 and to finish their trek to Sanchi, an ancient Buddhist site in India's Madhya Pradesh province on October 12. Junsei's peace group, formed in 1975, has staged peace marches throughout the world.