September 13, 2014 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
London/ New Delhi: A resolution to the Kashmir issue is crucial for world peace, a group of cross-party British lawmakers stressed during a debate in the UK Parliament complex. Around 13 cross-party MPs calling Jammu Kashmir issue a threat to regional and global peace and to give the people right to self-determination. The debate was held on September 11.
Liberal Democrat MP David Ward secured the debate on the political and humanitarian situation in Kashmir as part of the regular Backbench Business Committee process in the House of Commons. The Bradford MP opened the debate with reference to the devastating floods which have caused despair to thousands.
“We simply cannot escape the British legacy; we have an obligation to take an interest in Kashmir, as offering help is far from interfering,” he said. Former British minister MP Gregory Barker countered on behalf of the UK government’s view.
“There is a democratic process in place and around 61 per cent of the population participated in state elections in the region, which sits as part of the world’s largest democracy,” he said. “Any British insertion will be very unhelpful,” he added.
His views were echoed by Labour MP Barry Gardiner, who likened the discussion to the ongoing debate around Scotland’s independence from the United Kingdom. “This is almost akin to the Lok Sabha debating the merits and de-merits of Scottish independence,” he said.
The British lawmakers addressed both sides of the debate calling Jammu Kashmir issue a threat to regional and global peace and to give the people right to self-determination.
David Ward, who represents a largely Kashmiri-origin population in his constituency of Bradford, had secured the debate based on a petition by the Jammu Kashmir Self-Determination Movement which gained thousands of signatures.
Out of the 10 MPs of Indian-origin in Britain’s House of Commons, eight were missing from action in during the debate on Kashmir issue.The two who were present were Virendra Sharma and Paul Uppal. They defended India’s position on Kashmir issue. Virendra Sharma invoked argument that 61 percent voting during last Lok Sabha elections in Kashmir shows that there was not any determination for “separatism”.
Keith Vaz of Labour is the longest serving MP of Indian-origin who has uninterruptedly been a member of the House of Commons for 27 years reamined absent from the debate.
His sister Valerie Vaz (Labour), also an MP, was absent too, as were Alok Sharma (Conservative), Seema Malhotra (Labour) and Priti Patel (Conservative), among others.
Indian officials and various politicians from India have expressed their displeasure over the recent debated by British MPs on Kashmir issue.
“British Parliament’s decision to discuss Kashmir issue condemn-able. Can we take up Falkland Islands or Scotland issue for discussion in our parliament?” BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav said in tweet.
Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi struck a similar note, saying that, “British parliament should focus on Scotland rather than Kashmir. We are able to handle our problem.”
Deputy High Commissioner for India in the UK, Dr Virander Paul, had recently said, “From time to time, we find that there are certain tendencies in certain sections of the society, which are not in the interest of our strong relations. We need to watch out and be mindful of any such efforts.”
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