British MPs urge India to resolve Kashmir issue through dialogue
28 March 2002
The News International
KARACHI: A group of British parliamentarians currently visiting Pakistan has pressed the Indian government to give the Kashmiris their fundamental right of self-determination to settle the long-standing dispute between the two neighbours of South Asia. Addressing a meeting of English Speaking Union of Pakistan (ESUP) at a local hotel on Thursday they observed that India was hostile and belligerent in deploying its army on the Indo-Pak border and stressed that Indian side should be persuaded to the negotiating table to resolve the Kashmir dispute.The team led by the first Muslim member of the House of Commons in UK, Mohammad Sarwar, held the view that British government owed the responsibility for the solution of Kashmir dispute not because that it was the former colonial power but due to its international obligations as the member of European Union, Commonwealth and United Nations Security Council.Sarwar addressing the gathering said the international media after the September 11 had started linking the phenomena of terrorism, extremism and fanaticism with Islam and propagated that Islamic beliefs and teachings were supportive to these evils. ''Whereas no terrorist movements in any other parts of the world like Irish Republican Army were ever labeled or projected as Christian terrorist movement,'' he added.He underlined the need for making distinction between the freedom movement and terrorism and called the Kashmiris'' struggle as freedom movement as they were fighting for their right of self-determination under the UN Security Council resolutions. He said that the gap between the rich and poor countries and between the ''haves and have-nots'' on the global level should be significantly lowered down for tackling the menace of international terrorism. He claimed that the United Kingdom under the Labour Party government had made an unprecedented increased in its share to the international aid and assistance programme for development to lower this gap and to write-off the debt of poor countries.He disclosed that majority of Britons did not want the extension of war against terrorism to the Bush administration''s so- called ''axis of evil'' countries. Peter Pike, another visiting member of British Parliament, said that Britain could solve the Kashmir dispute alone but India should be convinced to hold peace talks with Pakistan to solve the issue bilaterally.He said that he and all his visiting colleagues unanimously observed that Pakistan was fully willing and cooperative to conduct parleys with India to solve the Kashmir issue by peaceful means whereas India was perceived as stubborn in holding talks with Pakistan. He assured that he and all his like-minded colleagues in the British Parliament would press the British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to recognise the Kashmir problem and its urgency for resolution. Other members of the team Lord Ameer Ali Bhatia and Tony Colman also spoke on the occasion. To a question, the speakers said that UK would be willing to open the membership of Commonwealth to Pakistan once democracy was fully restored in the country.