UK: For India, Pakistan to find lasting resolution in Kashmir

The United Kingdom government has reiterated its unchanged stance that the situation in Kashmir remains an issue for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political resolution to the issue.

Responding to a debate held in the House of Parliament complex on the “Political situation in Kashmir” on Wednesday, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) minister Nigel Adams stressed that it is not for Britain to play any mediatory role in a bilateral matter, even as he accepted there were human rights concerns on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC).

“The government’s policy [on Kashmir] remains stable, it’s unchanged. We continue to believe that this is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political resolution to the situation that takes into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people… as laid out in the Simla Agreement,” said Adams, in his capacity as Minister for Asia.

“It’s not appropriate for the UK government to prescribe a solution or act as a mediator in this regard but it would be wrong to not acknowledge there are serious human rights concerns in both India-administered and Pakistan-administered Kashmir. This has been confirmed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in his reports,” he said.

“The people of Kashmir deserve the opportunity to thrive and succeed, so more broadly we welcome the commitment that the Indian government has made to the economic and social development of India-administered Kashmir and we continue to seek further details of their plans,” added Adams.

At the end of the debate held at Westminster Hall in the House of Commons, the minister made reference to the District Development Council (DDC) democratic elections held in the region in December last year, which Labour Party MP Barry Gardiner pointed out attracted the free and fair participation of over 50 per cent of the local electorate.

And, responding to issues raised by cross-party MPs around the revocation of Article 370, which led to the creation of Jammu and Kashmir as Union Territories in August 2019, the minister welcomed the release of politicians held in protective custody and reports of broadband restrictions being lifted in the region.

“We understand some of these restrictions may have been relaxed, with broadband/internet partially restored along with some access to social media. This is welcome news, but more should be done…,” he said.

The debate, organised by backbench members of Parliament led by Labour’s Sarah Owen, included the participation of cross-party British MPs, many of whom have a large Kashmiri diaspora constituency base.

They raised concerns of alleged human rights violations and called on the UK government to seek access to the region for direct reports from Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK) to be presented in the UK Parliament in future.

“The people of Kashmir deserve the opportunity to thrive and succeed, so more broadly we welcome the commitment that the Indian government has made to the economic and social development” of Kashmir, said Adams. PTI