Members of the British Parliament of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Kashmir tabled a motion on “Human Rights in Kashmir” for debate in the House of Commons, prompting a strong reaction from India, which has stated that any assertion made in any forum on a subject related to an integral part of the country must be duly substantiated by authentic verifiable facts.
Asia Minister at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development (FCDO) Amanda Milling responded to the debate on Thursday by reiterating the British government’s unchanged stance on Kashmir as a bilateral issue.
“The government takes the situation in Kashmir very seriously, but it is up to India and Pakistan to find a lasting political solution, taking into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people. It is not for the UK to prescribe a solution or act as a mediator, ”Milling said.
The Indian government has expressed dismay at some of the languages used by MPs participating in the backbench debate, in particular Pakistani-born Labor MP Naz Shah.
A minister at the Indian High Commission in London condemned the attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and highlighted Kashmir’s status as an integral part of India.
“It is with sadness that the Indian High Commission notes that an august institution of another democracy has been misused today to level abuses against the elected leader of the largest sitting democracy to the world, “the minister said, referring to Shah’s remarks on the 2002 Gujarat riots.
“As on previous occasions, the High Commission of India reiterates that any statement made in a forum on a matter related to an integral part of India must be duly substantiated by authentic verifiable facts,” added the Minister.
The debate, which was due to be held in March 2020 but had to be postponed due to containment linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, was opened by opposition Labor MP Debbie Abrahams who recounted her visit to occupied Kashmir by Pakistan in February 2020.
“The Pakistani government has allowed us unhindered access, we have used our meetings to ask pointed questions related to human rights issues highlighted in United Nations reports,” Abrahams said.
“The Kashmiris must be at the heart of a trilateral peacebuilding process,” she said, reiterating that Thursday’s debate was “for or against” no country and only spoke in favor of the human rights.
More than 20 multi-party MPs from both sides took part in the debate, with Labor MP Barry Gardiner highlighting Pakistan-hosted terrorist camps in the region and drawing parallels with neighboring Afghanistan.
“Over the years, Pakistan has sheltered Taliban leaders and the ISI, their security services, provided them with other forms of support and other terrorist organizations,” he said.
Conservative Party MPs Bob Blackman and Theresa Villiers spoke about India’s democratic credentials and signaled the completion of local elections in Kashmir last December despite adversities linked to the pandemic.
“As a democracy where religious minorities enjoy all constitutional protections and which places great importance on respect for the rule of law, I believe that Indian courts and institutions are well capable of properly investigating allegations of human rights violations, ”Villiers said.