2 UK diplomats barred from visiting LoC
4 July 2005
Muzaffarabad: Two British diplomats could not travel to an area along the Line of Control on Monday after being told by the local authorities that the permission granted to them in this regard by the foreign affairs ministry was ‘invalid’. British High Commission’s Political Counsellor Peter Wilson and First Secretary, Political, Peter Boxer, had arrived here on Sunday to hold meetings with the AJK leadership and other dignitaries, according to the ministry’s permission issued on June 30. They were also permitted to travel to the LoC in their own vehicle, in response to their request made to the ministry on June 8. However, as they prepared for the journey to Chakothi sector on Monday, they were told that the permission was unenforceable because the foreign affairs ministry did not have the authority to deal with visits to the LoC. “You should have obtained permission from the ministry of defence,” an AJK home department official told the diplomats. The official maintained that the problem had arisen because the foreign ministry had not intimated the AJK government or any other relevant agency of its communication to the British high commission. Annoyed over what he believed was lack of coordination between government agencies, Mr Boxer remarked that he and his colleague were bound to adhere to the rules but they should informed about those. He also hinted that the high commission would take up the issue with the foreign ministry. Earlier, the diplomats met People’s Party AJK president Sahibzada Mohammad Ishaq Zaffar, who told them that his party had warmly welcomed the ongoing peace process. He, however, said the vibes from India were not very encouraging as New Delhi was constantly harping on its false claim on Kashmir. They also met Azad Kashmir JK Prime Minister’s Special Adviser on Political Affairs Raja Farooq Haider Khan and visited the AJK University. The diplomats were of the view that reconciliation between Pakistan and India was essential as only that could pave the way for a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir issue.