Kashmir Debate in The House of Commons United Kingdom

London:Kashmir debate took place in the House of Commons London on Thursday 19th January 2017 at the main Chamber for 3 hours. First speaker was David Nuttall MP Bury North Chairman All parties parliamentary group on Kashmir in the British parliament who proposed the Motion. The Motion was proposed as ” I beg to move the motion that stands in my name and the names of several other honourable members on the order paper. Let me start by thanking my fellow members of the Backbench Business Committee for allowing me to briefly stand down from the Committee in order to make the application for this debate and I further thank them for agreeing that this debate could take place today. I should also declare that I am the current Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Kashmir. Can I also at the outset of my remarks thank all those groups who have campaigned so steadfastly on this issue for so many years. In particular, Raja Najabat Hussain and the Jammu and Kashmir Self Determination Movement who works tirelessly to keep up the profile of the issue of Kashmir with MPs. Also, Fahim Kayani and the Kashmir Movement UK; Sabiya Khan and the British Muslim Womens Forum; Azmat Khan of JKLF; Najib Afsar and the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Council and Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani and the Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights Let me explain why this motion is being brought before the House today. Essentially it is because this issue matters to thousands of my constituents who are of a Pakistani and Kashmiri heritage and I know it matters to the constituents of so many of the members in the House today. Many of my constituents have family in Kashmir and in some cases they have personally lost loved ones or seen loved ones scarred for life as a result of violence. For those who may not be familiar with Kashmir it is an area of territory which runs across the border between Pakistan and India. The root causes of the conflict can be traced back to 1947 when the colony of India was granted independence by Britain and it was partitioned into two separate entities: India and Pakistan. The state of Jammu and Kashmir, with a predominantly Muslim population but a Hindu leader, shared borders with both India and West Pakistan. The area has a long and complex history and obviously there is not time to go into all the history today but suffice to say the argument over which nation would incorporate the state led to the first India- Pakistan War in 1947-48, and there have been several further upsurges in the conflict since then and I do not need to remind the House these are now nuclear powers. Just to complicate matters further some of the historic territory of Kashmir is now under the control of China. I am pleased to see my honourable friend the Minister for South Asia in his position and I am grateful to him for taking the time to meet with members of the All Party Group on Kashmir recently. I know he will be aware it is the fact Britain was responsible for the partition which leads many in the Kashmiri community to believe this Country could and should be doing more to help try and resolve the matter. The fact that the partition was seventy years ago demonstrates the intransigence of this problem and I am under no illusion there are any easy solutions There are two areas I wish to cover today. Firstly, the recent increase in violence and the human rights abuses. Secondly, the longer term issue of resolving this long running conflict. The most recent increase in violence began last year when on the 8th of July 2016, 22 year old Burhan Wani was killed by the security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir. Tens of thousands attended his funeral, at which clashes broke out between the security forces and protestors. Security forces fired live ammunition into the crowd killing several people and a police officer was also killed. Since then the authorities have declared a succession of curfews and closed down mobile phone services and media outlets. Attendance at mosques and adherence to religious practices has been restricted. Protestors have organised a series of general strikes and there have been regular public rallies. Schools, colleges and universities have also been closed. The economy has been badly hit. Funerals have often led to further clashes between protestors and the security forces. Critically scores of Kashmiris have been killed. Many thousands of civilians have been seriously injured. The use of pellet guns has left thousands of people including children who injured and in many cases blind. Armed militants have increased their attacks on the security forces. In September 2016 an attack on an army base killed 19 Indian soldiers – the army’s worst loss of life for well over a decade. There has also been a serious flaring up of tension between India and Pakistan, with regular exchanges between their forces along the Line of Control. These have led to significant military casualties. Senior figures on both sides have been ratcheting up the hostile rhetoric, leading to growing fears of a major escalation in conflict between the two countries. I know the government are concerned about any allegation of human rights abuses. Ministers have said so many times in answer to both oral and written questions but I do urge the Minister to condemn the attacks and the use of pellet guns. The fundamental human rights that are enshrined in the Indian constitution must be adhered to. There must be an end to the use of pellet guns on innocent civilians. The UNHCR and other interested parties must be allowed free and complete access to allow them to make an objective assessment. Let me turn now to the role of the United Nations in securing a long term settlement. After seventy years of inaction since the original UN resolutions were passed requiring these conflict to be resolved by peaceful democratic means it is easy to see why many in the Kashmiri community think the United Nations have lost interest in their problem. I have often said this dispute is all too frequently ignored by the media. It always seems there is some other conflict somewhere else in the World which grabs the headlines. As a member of the United Nations I know the United Kingdom supports all UN bodies and wants to help them fulfil their mandates but in the case of Kashmir there has surely been a failing for these resolutions to have gone unfulfilled for so long. I appreciate the government has to tread a careful path. We wish to be friends with both India and Pakistan A candid and true friend is one who sometimes says things that the other friend may find unpalatable. In this case we want both India and Pakistan to know that we want to help them find a permanent peaceful solution to this conflict. Of course, this Country cannot impose a solution but I believe we may be able to do more to try and bring the parties closer together I wish to make it absolutely clear I do not see this issue as being about taking sides and saying that if you are a friend of Kashmir you are not a friend of India. This problem must be resolved by peaceful means. I want to see the people of Kashmir being given the right to decide their own future – the right to self-determination. A right so historically exercised by the people of this Country on 23 rd June last year when the majority voted to leave the European Union. No one believes that there is an easy answer but anything has to be better than having a military controlled line of partition between two neighboring countries. I suspect there will always be rivalry between India and Pakistan but that rivalry should be contained to the field of sport. When the Minister responds to this debate I would ask my honorable friend not only to set out what the government position is on Kashmir but also what more this Country could do either through the United Nations or working directly with India and Pakistan to bring these two nations together to find a lasting and peaceful solution to this conflict. Mr Speaker, I commend the motion to the House.” This Motion was carried with heavy majority. Debate was attended by 70 mps but 29 made the contributions. Amongst the other speakers were Khalid Mehmood Mp Perry Bar, Imran Hussain mp Bradford East, Philip Davies mp Shipley, Robert Felalow mp Stoke on Trent, Lilian Green wood mp Nottingham South, Ruth Smeeth mp Stoke on Trent, Nusrat Ghani MP Weldone, Verender Sharma MP Ealing South, Simon Danzack mp Rochdale, Steve Baker mp High Wycombe, Vernon Coaker mp Gedlling Nottingham, Shabana Mahmood mp Ladywood, Bob Blackman mp, Naz Shah mp Bradford west, Chris Leslie mp Nottingham East, Gil Furniss mp Sheffield Brightside, Paul Blumffield Mp Sheffield Central, Holly Lynch MP Halifax, Liam Byrne mp Hodge Hill, Stella Cracy mp Walthamstow, Tracy Brabin Mp Batley & Spen, Kelvin Hopkins MP Luton North, Lyn Brown mp Westham, Tom Brake mp Wallington, Jim Shannon mp Strangford, Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh MP Ochil & South Perth Shire, Liz Migginas mp Shadow Minister of Foreign office Heywood Middlten, Alok Sharma MP Reading Foreign Minister responsible for South Asia. Kashmiris from all over the UK were present to support the MPs including Raja Najabat Hussain chairman Jammu Kashmir Self Determination Movement Europe, Sardar Abdur Rahman Khan, Mohammed Azam Secretary General JKSDMEU, Mohammed Boota Harry, Cllr Yasmine Dar Chairperson JKSDMUK, Kashmiri activist Samina Khan, Sania Bhati, Mushtaq Lasharie, Raja Amjad Khan Secretary All parties Kashmir coordination committee, Chaudhary Manzoor Hussain, Mohammed Ghalib Chairman Tehreek e Kashmir Europe, chaudhary Najeeb Afsar, Dr Z U Khan, Chaudhary Mohammed Farooq Southampton, cllr Mehboob Bhati, Raja Zafar Iqbal, cllr Zia Ahmed, Hina Malik, Naheem Abbasi, Raja Ghazanfer khaliq, Chaudhary Altaf Hussain, Gohar Almas Khan, Chaudhary Abdul Rasheed, Haji Manzoor Hussain, Chaudhary Mohammed Azam Kothi, Chaudhary Khalid Mehmood, Chaudhary Sajid Pinu, Riz Khan, Raja Sikander Khan,Mirza Mohammed Saddique,Zubair Ansari, Abid Zaman,Khawaja Inam ul Haq,Sardar Ikhlaq Khan,Sardar Mansoor Afandi,Imran Abbasi,Haji Mohammed Bashir,Hafiz Mohammed Idrees,Ruby Hussain Haider, Chaudhary Tariq Mehmood and many more. Kashmiri Leadership praised the All parties Kashmir parliamentary group specially David Nuttall MP, Barrister Imran Hussain mp, Nusrat Ghani MP, Robert Felalow mp and all others. Raja Najabat Hussain said Kashmiri Nation is proud of British Kashmiris and their hard work which brought some fruitful results. We are committed with our brothers and sisters in Indian Occupied Kashmir for raising their voice at the International level. We will have next step to organize a similar debate in the European Parliament.

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