Kashmir moot adopts London Declaration
17 March 2006
The Daily Times
London: The two-day international Kashmir Conference concluded on Thursday, with the adoption of the London Declaration, which vowed to continue endeavours for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue. British- Muslim Member of Parliament (MP) Barrister Sadiq Khan chaired the concluding session of the conference. “It is hoped that India, Pakistan and the international community will make the peace process productive and it is recommended that the true representatives of Jammu and Kashmir should be associated it,” the London Declaration read. The concluding session was attended by British MPs Margaret Moran, chairperson of the All Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group in the House of Commons, John Lilletin, vice-president of the Norwegian Parliament, Baroness Lindsay Northover and John Denham. The Liberal Democrats’ spokesperson for International Development House of Lords pledged to highlight the Kashmir issue, as it concerned the human rights of 13 million Kashmiris. AJK Opposition Leader Barrister Sultan Mehmood, the president of the World Kashmir Freedom Movement, also attended the session along with Sareer Fazli, an attorney from New York, Tahir Aziz, a Kashmiri analyst, and Dr Ghulam Nabi Mir. “Leaders of a freedom struggle should be the integral components of the peace process. The atmosphere of fear and repression should cease in occupied Kashmir. Demilitarisation is an essential step to providing relief to Kashmir’s people,’’ said the declaration, urging Pakistan and India to facilitate the free movement of Kashmiris across the divide and allow them self- governance. “A delegation consisting of parliamentarians from important countries, human rights organisations, intellectuals and journalists should visit both parts of Kashmir,” said the declaration, recommending that both New Delhi and Islamabad facilitate the visit. British MP John Denham said they would prevent conflict over Kashmir because of the West’s strategic interests in South Asia and promised to keep pressurising India to resolve the issue, adding that British MPs needed to keep persuading the concerned parties to take positive steps towards improving the human rights situation in Kashmir. MP Gerald Howerth said that though the resolution of Kashmir was a complex issue, some progress had been made in the last few years as the two countries had swapped a nuclear standoff for a negotiating table, adding that Britain had a limited role to play since to reach an agreement, it all came down to Pakistan and India. MP Sadiq Khan pledged to work for promoting the Kashmiris’ cause and AJK Opposition Leader Barrister Sultan Mehmoud urged the All Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group to work out a strategy to resolve the issue. He suggested that Indian forces retreat from Kashmir’s main towns to provide relief to its people. Chaudhry Muhammad Khan, a member of the AJK Legislative Assembly for Overseas British Kashmiris, stressed people-to-people contacts, saying that some Kashmir-specific CBMs could to stop the abuse of Kashmiris’ human rights. After the concluding session of the conference, the Advisory Committee of the Justice Foundation presented two Kashmir Awards to British journalist, Victoria Schofiled, and British-Kashmiri leader, Maulan Muhammad Yaqub Chishti, to honour their services for the Kashmir cause.