Updated: January 20, 2017 8:36:09 pm
The UK can neither “prescribe” a solution to the Kashmir issue nor act as a mediator, the British government has said, asserting that it is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting solution to the problem. “India and Pakistan are both long-standing and important friends of the United Kingdom and we have significant links to both countries through Indian and Pakistani diaspora communities,” Alok Sharma, UK’s Foreign Office minister in charge of Asia, said during a debate on Kashmir in the Parliament.
“…The long-standing position of the British government is that it can neither prescribe a solution to the situation in Kashmir nor act as a mediator. It is for the governments of India and Pakistan to find a lasting resolution, taking of course into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people,” he said, stating Britain’s position on the issue.
“The UK will continue to encourage both India and Pakistan to ensure that channels of dialogue remain open as a means of resolving differences,” he said on Thursday. Sharma also confirmed that British Prime Minister Theresa May had discussed the subject of Kashmir with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during her visit to India last November.
The motion in House of Commons had called on the UK government to encourage India and Pakistan to commence peace negotiations to establish a long-term solution to the dispute. The debate was organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Kashmir and was conducted by the Commons’ Backbench Business Committee following an application from Conservative Party MP David Nuttall. It was led by Nutall along with MPs Nusrat Ghani, Robert Flello and Fiona Mactaggart.
The motion for the debate read, “This House notes the escalation in violence and breaches of international human rights on the Indian side of the Line of Control in Kashmir; calls on the Government to raise the matter at the United Nations.” “And further calls on the Government to encourage Pakistan and India to commence peace negotiations to establish a long-term solution on the future governance of Kashmir based on the right of the Kashmiri people to determine their own future in accordance with the provisions of UN Security Council resolutions,” it read.
Nuttall concluded the debate by calling on Sharma to “reflect on the very many positive suggestions for future action” before calling for a vote on the motion, which the deputy speaker of the House passed in favour, saying “the ayes have it”. “It is not Britain’s role to intervene in the internal politics of any sovereign nation. But we stand ready to help facilitate and alleviate the suffering of the innocent people of Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir,” said Conservative party MP Bob Blackman, who has long campaigned for the rights of Kashmiri Pandits forced to flee the region.
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