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British MPs express concern over situation in held Kashmir

MUZAFFARABAD: Some members of the British parliament have observed that India had indulged in the worst human rights violations in occupied Kashmir as well as ethnic cleansing of the Kashmiri people in a bid to change the demography of the valley. Speaking at a joint press conference with Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan at Kashmir House in Islamabad on Tuesday, Labour MPs Barrister Imran Hussain from Bradford East, Khalid Mahmood from Birmingham and Stephen Timms from East Ham, and Perry Barr said India’s recent move to annex the disputed region of Kashmir was a naked violation of international laws and the UN resolutions, and could not be ignored by declaring it a bilateral issue between Pakistan and India or an internal matter of India. “The fact that this issue was taken up by the UN Security Council after 50 years is a huge thing [...] but I want to register concern because I believe that the Security Council should have gone further,” said Barrister Hussain.

“There should have been an agreed statement of condemnation which was not issued due to some reasons. While we welcome [the session,] I believe that the Security Council still has a role to play, the international community has a role to play and we will continue to push for that in the British parliament.” Barrister Hussain, who is also senior vice chairman of all-party parliamentary Kashmir Group (APPKG) in the UK parliament, said the situation [in held Kashmir] at the moment should concern the entire international community. Referring to the Aug 5 move by the Indian government, he said it was firstly a violation of India’s own constitution; secondly, it was a violation of different UN resolutions; and thirdly, it was in direct contravention of numerous international obligations of all states, and in particular Article 49 of the fourth Geneva Convention. He appreciated Pakistan’s peaceful response to the Indian measures. He castigated Indian ministers for using “irresponsible and loose language” regarding AJK.

“We wholly condemn [the usage of such language]. I wanted to say this in Pakistan and in Azad Kashmir, I warn those people who use this very irresponsible language that they should refrain from using it. This is provocative language and it is being used on an international level; it is wholly inappropriate,” he said. Barrister Hussain also lauded Pakistan’s “peaceful stance” in a “very, very difficult period”. He also expressed concern over the “blockade” in held Kashmir and said that while the reports coming from the region — which has been under lockdown since Aug 5 — were unconfirmed, the briefings that the British parliamentary delegation had received so far indicated that the events were leading up to a “very worrying situation”. “We demand from the international community, and will also bring this up in the British parliament, that the injustice against Kashmiris must stop and must stop imminently,” he said. MP Mahmood said the Kashmiris were suffering human rights violations, but the UN had failed to take a tangible step.

“If East Timor and Southern Sudan can have referendums without [UN] resolutions, isn’t there any worth of the lives of the Kashmiris? We should ask this question to the UN,” he said, adding, he had lost faith in the UN. “We should not wait for what they will do for us, but we should see what we can do ourselves,” he said.

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2019