Nick Clegg Says Britain Will Not Act As A Mediator On Kashmir

5 August 2014
Times of India
Kounteya Sinha

London: Britain's deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said that Britain does not want to be a mediator between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. In an exclusive interview to TOI, Clegg said 'Kashmir can only be resolved by the two neighbours - India and Pakistan through dialogue. UK does not intend to be a mediator between the two countries.' The House of Commons recently agreed to have a special debate on the state of human rights in Kashmir. Calling the 'ongoing Kashmir dispute a threat to regional and global peace', British MP David Ward informed the Backbench Business Committee that new Indian government has been 'quite aggressive in terms of its stance towards Kashmir' which was 'opening up a whole new area of uncertainty.' A formal date for the debate is yet to be decided. Clegg however was categorically clear that he didn't oppose such a debate. Clegg told TOI: 'The British parliament is a sovereign institution and is free to debate on any issue it likes. II definitely don't curtain the right to debate. But as far as the government's position on Kashmir is, it remains the same. This is a long-running conflict, and we stand by to help; but ultimately it can be resolved only by the two countries in question.' Ward recently informed the Committee that he had 40 MPs backing him up through a signatory campaign who would like Westminster to hold a debate on the human rights violations in Kashmir. They said 'Why should Kashmir be discussed in the parliament when Britain has always been of the view that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan?' Ward told the Committee that 'Kashmir has been a constant source of misery over many years to many people. In the region of 500,000 to 600,000 Indian Army troops are in the area on a permanent basis. It is an area of tension and some 500,000 people have died there in the past 60 or so years.' 'This is why I think it is an important subject: 3 million members of the Indian-Pakistani community; 100,000 Kashmiris in Bradford. The reason why I think it is important now to have a debate of this kind is, first of all, it is three years since we had a debate in the Chamber on this crucially important subject. It is considered by many to be the forgotten conflict. You are talking about two nuclear powers facing each other. We do believe it is worthy of a debate, because of its international dimensions as well'. Ward said the motion of the petition says 'This House believes that the ongoing Kashmir dispute is a threat to regional and global peace; further that the dispute is causing insecurity, instability and human rights violations; and further that the State of Jammu and Kashmir should be given the right to self-determination.'