UK parliamentarians on Wednesday held a Westminster Corridor debate on the ‘political situation in Kashmir’ proposed by Labour MP Sarah Owen.
She started by speaking concerning the restrictions in Kashmir since August 5, 2019, when sure provisions of Article 370 have been revoked and Jammu and Kashmir was accorded the standing of a Union Territory.
Evaluating it to the Covid-19 lockdown, she mentioned, “I am sure we have all caught ourselves at some stage moaning about the lockdown, but for the people of Kashmir it is not something new and, unlike here, in Kashmir, lockdown is not about safety; it is about control… The lockdown of 2019 shut off entire communities and their communications to the outside world.”
“Around 7 million people have been silenced and cut off. There were families worried about loved ones. Students studying in Luton were unable to get fees paid by parents in Kashmir, as banking ceased. There are curfews to control people’s lives, not a virus—a lockdown enforced by half a million soldiers,” she mentioned.
The UK authorities was represented by the Minister of State of Overseas Affairs, Nigel Adams. Addressing the discussion board, he mentioned that the UK authorities stays engaged with India though reiterating their place that it isn’t “appropriate” for the UK Authorities to prescribe an answer or act as a mediator on the subject of the unresolved query of Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
“The situation in Kashmir has been of particular concern to many here today, including this Government, especially since the revocation of article 370 of the Indian constitution in 2019 and the introduction of a number of restrictions on assembly and communications by the Indian Government, which has been raised by many Members. We understand that 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,” mentioned minister Adams.
Including, “It is 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 that there are serious human rights concerns in both India-administered and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.”
The dialogue that started focussed solely on Jammu and Kashmir was broadened with MPs like Barry Gardiner highlighting the atrocities in Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir (PoK).
“As a constitutional entity, the so-called Azad Jammu and Kashmir, which is better known to the world as Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, is not just strange but unique. It has been given the trappings of a country, with a President, Prime Minister and even a legislative assembly, but it is neither a country with its own sovereignty nor a province with its own clearly defined devolved authority from the national Government. Under section 56 of the AJK interim constitution of 1974, the Pakistan Government can dismiss any elected Government in AJK, irrespective of the support it might have in the legislative assembly,” he mentioned.
In the meantime, the Indian Excessive Fee in London additionally reacted to ‘Kashmir’ being debated by UK lawmakers.
Calling the premise of whole debate on inaccurate info, the assertion learn, “It was also noted that references to the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, despite the volumes of authentic information available in the public domain – based on up to date and visible facts on the ground, ignored current ground reality and, instead chose to reflect false assertions – of the kind promoted by a third country such as unsubstantiated allegations of ‘genocide’, ‘rampant violence’ and ‘torture’.
Highlighting the sufferings of the people of Kashmir at the hands of cross-border terrorism unleashed by Pakistan, the statement says, “They neither acknowledge the feelings of hope and optimism among the people of Jammu and Kashmir after more than seventy years of external interference, nor the atrocities being committed daily in the part of Kashmir that is illegally occupied by this third country which is recognized as a global epicenter of terrorism, a safe haven for more than 120 UN proscribed terror entities and individuals (confessed to by its Prime Minister) and a perpetrator of state-sponsored cross-border terrorism for over 70 years in Jammu and Kashmir – and the rest of India.”
Barry Gardiner supported the argument by saying, “The South Asia Terrorism Portal records that, of the 42 identified terrorist training camps located in Pakistan, 21 were located in Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Those camps belong to three main terrorist groups: Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hizbul Mujahideen. One of the key areas around which the camps are located is Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. According to Human Rights Watch, the Pakistani Government repress democratic freedoms, muzzle the press and practice routine torture within Azad Jammu and Kashmir.”
There have been others who additionally highlighted the considerations concerning the scenario in Kashmir.
Conservative MP James Daly mentioned, “The Government has quite rightly expressed in the last few days their views on China’s treatment of the Muslim population in that country. We must take a similar stance in respect of Kashmir and put the obvious human rights abuses at the top of our agenda. Thousands of our fellow citizens are from a Kashmiri background and have family members there who are affected on a daily basis by the acts that take place.”
Labour MP emphasised that whereas the talk just isn’t in opposition to India, each authorities must be held accountable.
“We are not against India. It is a huge country with an incredible history and limitless potential, but that does not mean that we should not hold the Indian Government to account for their abusive behaviour, especially in Kashmir. We also reject any argument in relation to Kashmir, Punjab, or the Uyghurs in China that these are internal matters and of no concern to those outside,” he mentioned.
MP Jim Shannon noticed that if India is mentioned the scenario in PoK can’t be ignored.
“I state my interest as chair of the all-party parliamentary group for the Pakistani minorities and chair of the all-party parliamentary group for international freedom of religion or belief. My work with both groups has led me to be very concerned about the human rights situations in both India and Pakistan,” he mentioned.
“Turning to the Pakistan-administered territories of Kashmir, they are not lily-white. I have to say that and I want to make some comments on it. They have problems with poor relationships, too. They amended their interim constitution in 2018 to define who is a real Muslim—I expressed concern about that when I was in Pakistan—and used that definition to discriminate against the minority Ahmadiyya community,
“There is credible information about the enforced disappearances of people from Pakistan-administered Kashmir. All those things are backed up by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. They have the facts and the evidence, and they say it,” mentioned Shannon.
The Indian Excessive Fee asserted that Kashmir is an inside challenge of India, but reiterated its invitation to interact the parliamentarians to dispel their misconceptions.
“It is not the policy of India to take undue interest in internal discussions within a foreign parliament. High Commission of India is engaging with all concerned including the UK Government and H’ble Parliamentarians to avoid misperceptions and misinformation by making authentic information about India available to all,” mentioned the assertion.
Pakistan origin MP Naz Shah referred to as on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to cease promoting arms to India.
“As a proud daughter of Kashmir, I simply ask the Minister whether the Prime Minister, who has now cancelled his visit to India, will follow on and cancel the shipment of arms to India? We do not need international leaders and Governments protesting with words; we have activists on the streets for that,” she mentioned.
In response to the interventions, Nigel Adams mentioned, “Now we have repeatedly raised our considerations about detentions and restrictions with the Indian Authorities. The Overseas Secretary has raised Kashmir together with his counterparts, together with throughout his go to to New Delhi final month, when he mentioned the scenario together with his counterpart. He has urged, once more, India and Pakistan to resolve their variations by way of dialogue.“
There have been ten MPs who spoke on the difficulty with Philip Davies within the chair and Nigel Adams representing the UK authorities.