British Parliament Agrees To Debate Kashmir 'rights Violation'
3 August 2014
Times of India
: The House of Commons of British parliament has agreed to have a special debate on the state of human rights in Kashmir. Calling the 'ongoing Kashmir dispute a threat to regional and global peace', British MP David Ward informed the backbench business committee that new Indian government has been 'quite aggressive in terms of its stance towards Kashmir' which was 'opening up a whole new area of uncertainty'. Ward also informed committee that he had 40 MPs backing him up through a signatory campaign who would like Westminster to hold a debate on the human rights violations in Kashmir. Though a formal date is yet to be decided, Britain's decision to agree for a debate on Kashmir hasn't gone down well with Friends of India and Southeast Asian thinktanks. They said 'Why should Kashmir be discussed in the parliament when Britain has always been of the view that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan?' Britain's foreign office minister Hugo Swire has on record told the parliament earlier that 'any solution should be between the two governments of India and Pakistan. We welcome progress made last September during a meeting of both prime ministers in New York. The British government does help and we have had discussions on human rights as recently as last month.' Swire had added: 'This is a long-running conflict, and we stand by to help; but ultimately it can be resolved only by the two countries in question.' Ward told the committee that 'Kashmir has been a constant source of misery over many years to many people. In the region of 500,000 to 600,000 Indian Army troops are in the area on a permanent basis. It is an area of tension and some 500,000 people have died there in the past 60 or so years'. 'This is why I think it is an important subject: 3 million members of the Indian-Pakistani community; 100,000 Kashmiris in Bradford. The reason why I think it is important now to have a debate of this kind is, first of all, it is three years since we had a debate in the chamber on this crucially important subject. It is considered by many to be the forgotten conflict. You are talking about two nuclear powers facing each other. We do believe it is worthy of a debate, because of its international dimensions as well'. Ward who represents Bradford East in the British parliament also brought up what he called the 'uncertainty about article 370'. He said the article 'grants special status to Jammu & Kashmir, but recently, through members of the new government, the BJP, there have been talks about the abrogation or revocation of 370. That, in itself, could be a source of great tension and conflict in the area. We are seeking a debate on a motion from a petition that many have signed. Certainly, we have got 40 MPs who have signed the petition. It has also been signed by 10 MEPs-these are all cross-party supporters-but also 50,000 members of the public have signed the petition.' Ward said the motion of the petition says: 'This house believes that the ongoing Kashmir dispute is a threat to regional and global peace; further that the dispute is causing insecurity, instability and human rights violations; and further that the state of Jammu & Kashmir should be given the right to self-determination'.