August 1999 News

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Diplomatic victory for India

21 July 1999

India scored yet another diplomatic victory during the Pak intrusion in Kargil, when British Minister of State in the Foreign Office, Geoffrey Hoon appreciated the Indian government for restricting its response to the 'incursion in Kargil' and thus preventing an escalation of the situation. He was replying to a debate (July 21, 1999) in the House of Commons on the issue of Kashmir. He highlighted the UK governments behind the scene role in encouraging both India and Pakistan to de-escalate the situation and welcomed an end to the current fighting in Kargil. He said that it was 'matter of great regret' that soon after the Lahore Declaration the 'events in Kargil' had rendered the process of resolving bilateral issues more difficult. He was scathing in his criticism of militancy in J&K saying "it is important to recognise that the incursion, and the continuing violence of the militants in J&K, have done nothing, and can do nothing to promote a durable solution in Kashmir. The evidence suggest that the militants have little in common with the ordinary people of Kashmir and don't represent them. And, as Amnesty International pointed out in recent report, the militants receive from outside Kashmir, would greatly assist the search for a solution to the problem".

While calling on the Indian government to improve the human rights performance of its SFs and allow International Organisations access into J&K, Hoon praised the 'National Human Rights Commission'(NHRC), which was "rightly seen as an effective custodian and promoter of Human rights in India." He also put the point regarding 'will of the Kashmiri people' in perspective by saying that no one group or institution could accurately claim to represent the views and interests of the Muslims, the Buddhists and the displaced Hindu population in Kashmir. The UK, however, believed that for a just and lasting solution, the views of the people living in Kashmir should dialogue between India and Pakistan to seek a solution to the problem.

The Adjournment Debate sponsored by Lorna Fitzsimons, the Labour MP from Rochdale, was attended by twenty MPs including sixteen from the Labour Party. Three of the MPs - Barry Gardiner, Stephen Pound and Piara Khabra spoke in favour of India's position while Margaret Moran, Hillary Benn and Mohd. Sarwar reflected the Pakistani/Mirpuri position.

Hoon's unambiguous response represents one of the most positive statements by the British government, on Kashmir in recent times. It also reflects that the UK Government's policy on Kashmir is based on the age-old friendship between the two countries and is not dictated by the 'constituency pressures' of a few Members of Parliament.

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This Archives is Maintained by Md. Sadiq, 1998

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