MUZAFFARBAD: Britain’s shadow immigration minister and Labour Party member Mohammad Afzal Khan has dismissed Tory government’s stance that Kashmir is a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan as a “redundant and worthless” argument and called upon the British government to play its role in early settlement of the issue for lasting global peace.
Talking to reporters during his visit to Muzaffarabad on Sunday, he regretted that the [UK’s] ruling Conservative Party had tried to show “neutrality” in the case of Kashmir that was under a lockdown for the past two months.
“Where there are human rights abuses, there is no neutrality,” he said, adding, “You should stand by humanity and not with your trade [economic interests],” added Mr Khan, who represents the Manchester Gorton constituency in the British Parliament.
MP Khan made it clear that this yardstick was not just about Kashmir or India, but for every place across the world where human rights abuses are committed.
“Those who have a pain for humanity are duty-bound to raise their voice against the human rights abuses,” he said.
He said Labour Party leader Jeremy Bernard Corbyn was a firm and good leader who had a pain for humanity.
“That’s why our party passed an emergency motion at its conference that it will push this issue [of Kashmir for settlement]”.
He said the Labour Party resolution had demanded of India to stop human rights violations and give access for monitoring of the situation.
Mr Khan pointed out that Kashmir was a dispute where three nuclear powers — Pakistan, India and China — had stakes and it was why the experts feared that a nuclear war in the region would threaten the lives of over 100 million people.
“This is a threat to the world peace and therefore the world should not remain in slumber. It has to look into and subsequently resolve the issue.”
MP Khan said that unresolved Kashmir issue also posed a question mark on the credibility of the United Nations.
“For the past 70 years this issue is in the cold storage [...] If you wish there should be peace in the world, you will have to overcome difficulties. Implementation of the Security Council resolutions is vital for world body’s own credibility.”
On a question about the public response to India’s August 5 move, MP Khan said it was unprecedented.
“Over the past 50 years I haven’t seen such movement,” he said, adding that demonstrations were being held in all cities and towns and many political forces were mobilising themselves against this move.
“People say it [Indian move] is unacceptable. How is this acceptable that in 21st century India has turned an entire territory into a jail for more than two months,” he said of occupied Kashmir.
“How can this go along with democratic values?” MP Khan noted that voices were being raised against this move even from within India.
He said the responsibility of the United Kingdom with regard to Kashmir was double rather triple.
“Historically this issue is our [Britain’s] legacy. Secondly, Britain is a permanent member of the Security Council and thirdly we have Commonwealth relationship. If Britain wants peace in Commonwealth, where both India and Pakistan are important, then why shouldn’t it resolve the problem?”
Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2019