Exodus of Britons as Kashmir Crisis Talks Are Ruled out; 'Relief' for Western Families Pulled out of India and Pakistan by Their Firms

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN MACKINNON

From Ian MacKinnon in New Delhi

HUNDREDS of Britons joined an exodus of foreigners from India and Pakistan yesterday as both sides in the conflict over Kashmir ruled out talks to defuse the crisis.

Delhi's international airport saw a steady stream of departures to Britain following Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's warning on Friday that expatriates should consider leaving the country.

Tension between the Asian nuclear powers mounted as India's Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, ruled out face-to-face talks with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf at a summit of regional leaders in Kazakhstan, which begins today.

Britons arriving back in London yesterday spoke of their relief at being clear of the conflict zone.

Suzanne Marshall left behind her husband Rob in Pakistan to return home with their two sons Daniel, eight, and Michael, five.

The family have lived for five years in Islamabad, where Mr Marshall works in the oil and gas industry. At Heathrow, Mrs Marshall said: 'There is a lot of paranoia out there, especially amongst the ex-pat community. I think it is because new things keep happening every day.

'It is very worrying knowing my husband is still there. But he will be following me soon.' Caroline Mayhew, accompanied by her sons Khalid, 15, and Sharim, two, also flew to Heathrow from Islamabad, where Khalid was studying.

His father is already in Britain.

Khalid said: 'Everybody in Pakistan is scared about what is going to happen, especially the foreigners - even those that have lived there a long time. …