January 2019 News

Stop MPs' Meet On Kashmir, India Tells U.K.

31 January 2019
The Hindu
Suhasini Haidar

New Delhi: After summoning the Pakistan High Commissioner on Wednesday, India has registered its protest with the British government about an upcoming meet on Kashmir at the British Parliament, the Ministry of External Affairs said. The government also warned of 'consequences' if Pakistan continued its actions on Kashmir, which it called a 'direct interference in India's internal affairs'. 'We have told the United Kingdom [government] quite strongly that their territory must not be used for anti-India activity conferences or rallies, and we hope they will take it seriously, and take action against this kind of conference,' said MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar. He was briefing journalists about the measures taken against the meeting in the House of Commons on February 4 of the 'All Party Parliamentary Group on Pakistan' (APPG-Pakistan) - a group that includes Conservative and Labour Party MPs. In this September 5, 2018 file photo, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi briefs media about the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at foreign ministry in Islamabad, Pakistan. Officials said they hoped that Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi would not be given an official welcome during his visit to London, where he is expected to attend the conference, and that the British government would distance itself from the proceedings. 'Private visit' The British High Commission said the visit by Mr. Qureshi was a 'private' one. 'There are no plans for meetings with the U.K. government during this visit. The U.K.'s long-standing position is that it is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political resolution to the situation in Kashmir, taking into account the Kashmiri people's wishes,' the spokesperson for the High Commission in Delhi wrote in reply to a query from The Hindu. Late on Wednesday, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood, and issued a stern demarche on Mr. Qureshi's telephone call to Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, calling it proof that Pakistan 'abets and encourages individuals associated with terrorism and anti-India activities'. The spokesperson clarified, however, that the statement was aimed at 'anti-India forces' and did not pinpoint the individuals. In a reciprocal action on Thursday morning, the Pakistan Foreign Ministry summoned Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria to issue a counter-protest, calling India's reaction 'an indication of domestic politics being allowed to override India's international obligations.' India has raised the issue of 'anti-India' groups within the U.K. several times in the past few months. In August, the British government turned down an Indian request to cancel a pro-Khalistani rally in London demanding a referendum. In November, an APPG on Kashmir had presented a report to the British parliament after a visit to Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, and also met with the British Foreign Office Minister (South Asia and the Pacific) Mark Field last week, who is expected to visit India shortly. In a statement issued by the APPG Chairperson, MP Debbie Abraham, 'the group discussed the recently published APPG Report on Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as the UNHRC Report on Human Rights in India-controlled Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, which highlighted the need for a reconciliation process between India and Pakistan, as well as repealing laws such as the Armed Forces Special Power Act and the Public Safety Act in Jammu & Kashmir. Concerns were raised of a potential escalation of oppressive actions by the Indian security forces ahead of this year's election'.

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