British MPs demand early solution to ‘lingering’ Kashmir issue

British MPs demand early solution to ‘lingering’ Kashmir issue

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MUZAFFARABAD: A group of six British parliamentarians from the ruling Conservative Party on Thursday called for a just and early solution to “the lingering Kashmir issue” in accordance with the United Nations Security Council resolutions and the wishes and aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

The visiting MPs suggested that the UN should send an independent and impartial commission to both parts of the disputed Himalayan region to ascertain the situation on the ground.

They expressed these views at a reception held in their honour by Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan. Members of the AJK cabinet and Legislative Assembly, senior government officials and civil society activists were among the attendees.

The British lawmakers, who travelled to Pakistan reportedly on the invitation of National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq on April 2, visited Muzaffarabad to meet government officials and people from other walks of life, including Kashmiri refugees living in different camps.

Speaking on the occasion, MP Rehman Chishti, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Pakistan, recalled that during his previous visit to Muzaffarabad in 2012 he had promised to bring along his fellow parliamentarians on his next trip.

“It’s important for the UK parliamentarians to visit Kashmir and realise the problems of locals and help resolve the Kashmir issue,” said the MP, who was born in a suburban area of Muzaffarabad.

Referring to the human rights situation in India held Kashmir, he said the UN should constitute an “independent international commission” which should visit both parts of Kashmir.

“Its finding, whatever those might be, should be accepted by everyone,” he said.

He said the people of Kashmir were like any other citizens of the world and they had every right to determine their destiny.

MP Royston Smith said that during their meetings with different people in their first visit to Pakistan and AJK, he had observed that there was complete unanimity that the situation in Kashmir needed to be resolved without further delay.

“Indeed, this issue needs to be resolved by the United Nations. If the UN cannot resolve it over the past 70 years then my question is: What role the UN has at all,” he said.

Assuring the audience that they would do whatever they could to get this issue settled, he said amid clapping: “You have five more advocates, other than Chishti, in the Parliament.”

MP Matthew Offord spoke about the opportunities in different sectors in AJK and said he would ensure that AJK got services in health and education sectors on a par with other parts of Pakistan through DFID funding.

MP Mark Pawsey told the audience that he and his colleagues would be leaving Pakistan with a much greater understanding of Kashmir issue.

MP Henry Smith also voiced his support for the right to self-determination of the Kashmiris, without mincing words.

“Somebody who is a democrat, somebody who is the beneficiary of elected democratic process can realise that the future of this region should be decided by you – people of Kashmir… That is the message we will take back to London,” he maintained.

MP Nigel Huddleston said Kashmir had been an issue for a very long period of time.

“Indeed it is hope, expectation, and requirement of all moderate and reasonable people in UK, Pakistan, India and also in Kashmir that a reasonable and sensible solution is achieved at the earliest opportunity… And I hope the UN plays its role to ensure it.”

AJK President expressed his gratitude to the visitors for taking out time to comprehend the situation and sentiments in Kashmir. He also gave them an in-depth briefing to the visitors on Indian atrocities and expressed the hope that the world community would play a pro-active role to save the South Asian region from a disaster that loomed large in shape of an unresolved Kashmir

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