Sultan concerned over shift in Britain''s Kashmir policy
2 July 2000
DEWSBURY: Prime Minister Azad Jammu and Kashmir Barrister Sultan Mehmood has expressed concern over the apparent shift in the policy of the Labour government towards Kashmir issue. He conveyed his concern in a meeting with Chief Whip of the ruling Labour Party Ann Taylor at the residence of a local Kashmiri activist on Sunday. ''There is a visible tilt towards India,'' Sultan said. He said that human rights abuses in the occupied Kashmir are order of the day. Sultan also referred to the unprovoked and indiscriminate artillery shelling by the Indian forces on defenceless population in AJK. He added that 14-15 people are daily fallen prey to the Indian shelling and firing. He recalled the Labour Party firm commitment to the Kashmiris made in its annual conference in Brighten in 1997 and pre-election meetings for taking concrete steps to end human rights violations and pave the way for settlement of the dispute in accordance with the will of the Kashmiri people. He deplored that the Labour government now seems to have backtracked on its commitments. Sultan said Britain-based Kashmiris have been traditional supporters of Labour Party and are deeply concerned over atrocities and brutalities being perpetrated on their kith and kin in Jammu and Kashmir. He said that Kashmiris are getting disappointed and dismayed over the silence of the Labour government. Ann Taylor said that Tony Blair and Robin Cook and she herself were fully alive to the importance of the Kashmir issue and its final settlement at an early date. ''It has not gone on the back burner. India having become a major trade partner was getting British attention but Kashmir has not been forgotten. Sometimes high profile activity becomes counter productive,'' she said. The AJK Prime Minister invited her to visit AJK which she accepted in principle. The meeting lasted for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, in the first leg of his ''meet the people campaign,'' in the length and breadth of UK, Sultan held six public meetings in North and in Midlands. During his Sunday''s 18-hour tour, he briefed well attended meetings of Kashmiris in Dewsbury, Birmingham, Dudley, Tipton, Wassal and Burton on Trent. He informed the people of the latest situation in Indian held Kashmir and Line of Control and in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. He availed the opportunity to ask the Kashmiris to make the July 9 public rally in London, a success. At the end of the rally, a memorandum initiated by elected British Councilors of Kashmir and Pakistan origin and signed by estimated 50 thousands people will be presented to British PM in Downing Street.