ISLAMABAD: The British government has refused the Indian request for stopping planned Kashmir Day events in London, saying citizens’ right to protest cannot be curtailed.
“A number of private events organised by various campaign groups take place each year in the UK. People in the UK have a right to protest and to demonstrate their views, provided they act within the law,” read a brief statement shared by the British High Commission with Dawn.
The British government underscored that it was for Pakistan and India to find a solution to the Kashmir dispute and that the UK saw no role for itself in this regard. “The UK’s long-standing position is that it is for the governments of India and Pakistan to find a lasting political resolution to the situation in Kashmir, taking into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people. It is not for the UK to prescribe a solution or to act as mediator,” the statement said.
British govt was asked not to allow conference in House of Commons, exhibition in London
This stance was taken by the British government after India strongly protested with it over the planned Kashmir Conference in the House of Commons on Feb 4 and an exhibition in London on Feb 5 to highlight the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and grave human rights violations against the Kashmiri people by India.
The conference will be hosted by an All Party Parliamentary Group — one of many informal cross-party groups. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will travel to London to attend the event.
New Delhi had asked the British government to stop the event.
According to Indian media, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “United Kingdom has been told, 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”.
The Indian government, after failing to convince the British government to stop the event, is now taking solace in the fact that the UK has described the Kashmir Day activities in London as ‘private events’. The British government, according to a source, has informed the Indian authorities that “Mr Qureshi is travelling to London to attend a number of private events. There are no plans for meetings with the UK government during this visit and he is not a guest of the government”.
Earlier, India had protested with Pakistan over FM Qureshi’s telephonic conversation with All Parties Hurriyat Conference leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. The Foreign Office rejected Indian objections and reaffirmed Pakistan’s continued support for the struggle of the Kashmiri people.
Mr Qureshi had called Mirwaiz on Tuesday to update him about the Kashmir Day conference and exhibition.
Published in Dawn, February 2nd, 2019