Published On: Thu, Sep 11th, 2014

Debate on human rights situation in Kashmir in UK

A debate on the human rights situation in Kashmir to be held in the UK Parliament building on Thursday.

Liberal Democrat MP David Ward has secured a ‘General debate on political and humanitarian situation in Kashmir’ as part of the regular Backbench Business Committee application process in the House of Commons.

Based on a petition by the ‘J&K Self-Determination Movement’ which gained around 5,000 signatures, the Bradford East MP was able to push for the debate calling Kashmir dispute a ‘threat’ to give people “right to self- determination”.

Speaking at an event to mark the 125th birth anniversary of the Indian freedom fighter Sarat Bose over the weekend, the Deputy High Commissioner for India in the UK, Dr Virander Paul, surprised his audience by stating: “From time to time, we find that there are certain tendencies in certain sections of society, which are not in the interest of our strong relations.”

While Paul made no reference to the debate, his remarks were aimed at the senior cabinet minister who was present at the function, Dr Vince Cable, who is a long-standing LD leader.

India has always considered any debate on Kashmir by British parliamentarians as an interference in India’s internal affairs. The last time this occurred – in 2011 – there were several more pro-Pakistan speakers than pro-India speakers.

“If possible, please speak in the Kashmir debate and let your constituents know your and your party’s stand on this subject,” the appeal adds in reference to Leicester MPs Keith Vaz, John Ashworth and Liz Kendall.

The British Parliament’s Backbench Business Committee meets weekly to consider requests for debates from any backbench MP on any subject, including those raised in e-petitions or national campaigns.

These debates are held in a chamber within the House of Commons complex and aimed at lobbying UK government on specific issues.

Around 20 British MPs, including Ward, Labour’s shadow finance secretary Shabana Mahmood and secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Kashmir Richard Harrington, are lined up to address the debate.

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