British Government Welcomes Resumption Of Kashmir Trade Links

23 October 2008
Associated Press of Pakistan

London: The British Government has appreciated the resumption of the trade links between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad and termed it a positive step towards confidence building measures between Pakistan and India. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Lord Malloch Brown at his briefing here last evening on his return from a visit to Bangladesh and India said the re-commencement of the trade ties after 60 years between the two parts of the divided Kashmir has been a major initiative by New Delhi and Islamabad to move forward in their mutual relations. However, he stated that the Britainís position on the disputed Himalayan region remain consistent and it wants both India and Pakistan to sort out this issue in a amicable manner through sustain dialogues. Responding to a question on the construction of Baghlihar Dam on River Chenab in the Indian occupied Kashmir, he said during his discussion with the Indian leadership he was told that India has no intention of withholding water as feared by some quarters in Pakistan. The British Minister in response to another question said allegations of Pakistani involvement in the recent upsurge of violence in Srinagar were untrue and he was told that this was due to the decision of the State Government to hand over land to Hindu shrine board, a decision which was withdrawn later. Lord Malloch Brown also welcomed the recent remarks of President Asif Ali Zardari on the need to speed up the peace process on Kashmir and said he found understanding in the Indian leadership in this regard. Speaking about his visit to Bangladesh, the Minister said he was pleased to see the caretaker Military Government getting ready to hold the legislative election on December 18. He also appreciated BDís Government crackdown on corruption and said that he was told that 78 former legislators belonging to Bangladesh National Party and the Awami League had been convicted on graft charges. Lord Brown further said 80 million electoral rolls have been prepared and cards with biometric chips are being distributed among the voters to ensure transparent, free and fair elections.