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UK Parliament debate on Kashmir draws few takers

Press Trust Of India
Sep 16, 2011 at 01:36pm IST

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London: Efforts to rake up the alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir by backbenchers in the UK Parliament virtually fell flat as the debate on the issue drew few takers, even as the government here asserted that it was for India and Pakistan to resolve the problem bilaterally.

"No matter how well intentioned, any attempts by the UK or other third parties to mediate or prescribe solutions (to Kashmir issue) would hinder progress," Britain's Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Alistair Burt said replying to the debate on "Human Rights on the Indian Subcontinent" in the House of Commons Thursday evening.

The motion, moved by Steve Baker of the Conservative Party, was taken up at the initiative of 'backbenchers' and there was no vote on it. Less than 30 members of the 640-strong House of Commons attended the debate.

UK Parliament debate on Kashmir draws few takers

Less than 30 members of the 640-strong House of Commons attended the debate.

Miffed over British Parliament's moves to discuss alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, India on Thursday said it has taken "due note of the issue" and asserted there were effective mechanisms within the country's democratic framework to address any grievance or any aberration.

Burt said "the position of successive British Government has consistently been that any resolution (of the Kashmir issue) must be for India and Pakistan to agree, taking into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

"As India and Pakistan are currently making efforts to build confidence in all aspects of their relationship, I believe it is important that they be given space to determine the scope and pace of that dialogue."

Referring to allegations of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, Burt said "We continue to monitor developments in Kashmir closely, especially as reports of human rights abuses on both sides of the line of control continue.

"We are all aware of the violent protests that occurred in Indian-administered Kashmir during the summer of 2010. More than 100 civilians were killed and a number of security forces personnel were injured. During the unrest there were allegations of excessive use of force by security forces against protesters and allegations that protesters themselves had used violence."

"We are also aware of the large number of detentions that have since been the subject of an Amnesty International report," he said.

However, Burt said, Britain welcomes the renewed engagement by the leaders of India and Pakistan "to grope towards, perhaps for the first time in a long time on a personal basis, answers to this issue."

"We also note that the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that human rights abuses by security forces in Kashmir would not be tolerated, and we welcomed his appointment of three interlocutors to engage with a wide range of interested parties to help to resolve the situation in Indian-administered Kashmir.

"We understand that those interlocutors will publish their recommendations soon," Burt said.

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