British MPs urge govt to play role in resolving Kashmir conflict

Sep 27, 2021 | Kashmir Coverage (General News)

Labour Party MP Kinnock says it is historical responsibility of UK to play role in resolving decades-old conflict.

A British Member of Parliament (MP) from the Labour Party has termed the situation on the ground in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) as “deeply troubling”, urging the government of the United Kingdom to play its role in resolving the decades-old Kashmir conflict.

“For 72 years this conflict of Jammu and Kashmir has been going on. It is the world’s largest longest unresolved conflict. It dates back to 1947 and it is defined by the long and tragic history of political and military conflicts,” Stephen Kinnock said during a session of the House of Commons on Thursday, debating the conflict which has claimed thousands of lives.

He added that it was not just the historical responsibility of the UK to play its part but also the country has so many ties that bind it even in 2021.

Read more: The unfolding Kashmir tragedy

“There is an opportunity to work with our friends and partners in Pakistan and India and with the Kashmiri people to find a peaceful solution.”

He said that as many as 95,000 people have been killed in the last 30 years alone by some accounts whereas IIOJK is recognised as “the most heavily militarised region in the world”.

“It is deeply disturbing that Kashmir has become a political football in the great game between India, China and Pakistan. Each of these nations has nuclear capabilities,” he added.

On August 5, 2019, the UK parliamentarian said that the Indian government universally revoked Article 370, replaced the autonomous state of Jammu and Kashmir and replaced it with two union territories govern directly by New Delhi.

Also read: Govt shares dossier on ‘war crimes’ in IIOJK

“What followed was an Indian army imposed lockdown which lasted February 2021. The lockdown and internet ban have a far-reaching impact on every aspect of life for Kashmiri people. Education, health services and media freedom all were undermined.”

Kinnock said that the Modi government claimed that unilaterally revoking Article 370 was an “internal matter”, claiming that such actions do not interfere with the boundaries of the territories of the LoC.

“This unilateral action was counterproductive in terms of trying to achieve a peaceful and just long-term settlement of the issue.”

He said that the Labour Party would urge New Delhi to carefully assess the impact on the individual rights and freedom of Kashmiri citizens while taking such significant actions. “The Labour Party will always speak up for the rights of people of Kashmir,” he concluded.

Naz Shah, another British parliamentarian, said that after events of the last century, “by now we should all know what a fascist party looks like, speaks like and what it acts like”.

“We should also know what illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing look like. However, despite knowing that we failed in our duties to act, knowing that the BJP’s journey towards genocide, we are not doing what we should do,” she added.

Quoting the Genocide Watch, Naz said that all 10 stages of the genocidal process in Jammu and Kashmir are far advanced while Kashmir is under military rule.

“Why the double standard,” she questioned. “Isn’t injustice anywhere affects justice everywhere? Do we apply different standards to our friends and trading partners and different standards to our foes? Isn’t it easy to be critical of our foes but bolder and braver to be critical of our friends?”

Also read: Pakistan welcomes UN’s ‘unchanged’ stance on Kashmir

She reminded the house that Kashmir is deemed the unfinished business of partition. “The question in the minds of Kashmiris worldwide and in the region is simply this: How will the ‘butcher of Gujarat’ settle this unfinished business of partition. If assessment given by the Genocide Watch is to go by, we can draw the conclusion.”

About questions regarding why the UK should act on the matter, she said that IIOJK is the largest militarised zone in the world and India and Pakistan are two nuclear-armed states who are at the brink of war if India continues its war-mongering.

MP Afzal Khan from the Labour Party said that the human rights situation in IIOJK has long been a cause for international concern. “The Kashmir conflict is the longest unresolved dispute on the agenda of the UN. The situation for Kashmiris has become dire during the pandemic. The people of Kashmir face an uncertain and bleak future,” he added.

Pointing towards wider problems in India regarding human rights and lack of freedom for minorities, Afzal said that the rise in populism has resulted in the lack of checks and balances, a power-hungry executive and a crackdown on dissent.

“The suffocation of minority rights and lack of freedom of expression has been illustrated by the ongoing farmers’ protest and protests by minorities including Christians and Dalits,” he added.

The UK lawmaker said that Amnesty International also pointed towards a depressing picture in IIOJK. “I believe that all South Asia is suffering as a result of these two big countries the way they are behaving and the money they are spending on arms.”

Kashmir, he also said, is the only state in India where a crowd control gun is used which has caused 700 Kashmiris to go blind including infants.

“India is a diminishing democracy. The government likes to talk about friendship and closer ties with India but true friendship requires honesty and accountability. We must recognise the role the UK played in the Kashmir conflict. The roots of the conflict lie in its colonial past which facilitated the violent partition between India and Pakistan and left the fate of Kashmiris undecided,” he concluded.

News Desk | The Express Tribune