LONDON, April 16: Former prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Barrister Sultan Mehmood has pleaded with the government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown to make its support for India’s bid for a seat in the UN Security Council conditional to the resolution of the Kashmir dispute.
Mr Mehmood on his way back home after a week-long visit of Europe told a group of London-based Pakistani journalists here that his party in Britain proposed to submit a petition in this regard to the ruling Labour Party convention scheduled for September.
“We are collecting signatures of all British Kashmiris on the petition and hope to get as many as there are by the due date,” he said.
In his opinion if the Labour Party ignored the petition it may lose the support of some 800,000 British Kashmiri voters and their sympathisers in the next election.
When asked if he was giving an ultimatum to the Labour Party, he answered in the negative and said: “We are making a request in writing to the British government.”
“We are not opposed to India becoming a member of the UNSC. In fact we think with India sitting in the UNSC the interests of the region would be protected more effectively. But New Delhi would first have to show respect for the past UN resolutions before becoming a veto-wielding member of the UN,” he added.
He said during his European tour he had appealed to the respective governments for their support on three points: 1. International mediation for Kashmir dispute resolution; 2. Expanding bilateral negotiations on Kashmir to include the representatives of the Kashmiri people and; 3. Intra-Kashmiri dialogue.
He said while he understood India’s reasons for shunning third party mediation, one should not ignore the fact that so far no conflict between India and Pakistan had been resolved without third party intervention. “For example the Rann of Kutch dispute was resolved by the International Court of Justice, the negotiations for Indus Basin Treaty were conducted under the auspices of the World Bank and the Tashkent declaration was the result of the intervention of the former Soviet Union”.
He said the previous government in Islamabad was all set to accept the LoC as the final settlement of Kashmir dispute but the judicial crisis forced President Musharraf to put the plan on the back-burner.
He felt a democratic government rather than a military dictatorship was in a better position to resolve the dispute keeping in mind the aspirations of the people of Kashmir.