India asks UK not to allow Pak FM to spew propaganda

Last Updated 31 January 2019, 16:59 IST

India has asked the British government to stop the latest move by some members of the United Kingdom's Parliament to host Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in London and allow him to run propaganda against New Delhi on the issue of Kashmir.

Qureshi is likely to address some members of the British House of Commons in London on February 4 during a conference on a report on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir state of India.

“(The) UK is aware about our sensitivities in the matter (related to the issue of Kashmir),” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, told journalists on Thursday. “As a friendly country and strategic partner, we hope that the Government of the United Kingdom will address our concerns on the proposed conference which is very clearly intended to undermine unity, sovereignty, integrity of India.”

The report prepared by a group of UK parliamentarians recommended that the Government of India must repeal the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act 1990 and enable prosecution of armed forces and security personnel in the civilian judicial system.

It also asked the Government of India to initiate a comprehensive public investigation into the identities of bodies in mass and unmarked graves and immediately ban the use of pellet firing shotguns.

It recommended that the "Government of Jammu and Kashmir" must urgently provide a strict and limited statutory basis for administrative detention powers, in line with international legal principles, by repealing or amending the Public Safety Act 1978.

Chris Leslie, a Labour MP from Nottingham East constituency of the UK, chairs the group, which is known as All Party Parliamentary Group on Kashmir.

Leslie, who wrote the foreword to the report, alleged that most egregious human right violations “framed everyday life for millions of Kashmiris” in Jammu and Kashmir state of India. “Excessive state violence, systematized by a legal framework which grants near-wholesale impunity to those responsible, is routine (in J&K state of India),” wrote the British MPs.

India never took cognisance of the report by the British MPs. New Delhi has since long been insisting that Kashmir was a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and it should be resolved through bilateral dialogue without any third party playing any role.

“We have, we have actually taken it up with the UK. We do hope that they do understand our objections to this proposed conference and take appropriate action,” Kumar, the MEA spokesperson, said.

The war of words between New Delhi and Islamabad heated up since Wednesday after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi called up Kashmiri separatist leader and chairman of All Parties Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. New Delhi condemned “in the strongest terms” the “latest brazen attempt” by “none other than the Pakistan Foreign Minister” to subvert India’s unity and to violate its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale summoned Islamabad’s envoy to New Delhi, Sohail Mahmood, to his office at the South Block late at night on Wednesday. He conveyed to Mahmood that the “deplorable act” had violated all norms for the conduct of international relations even by Pakistan Government’s own standards. He warned Mahmood that any repetition of such actions by Pakistan against India would have “implications”.

Gokhale's counterpart Pakistan Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua retaliated by summoning New Delhi's High Commissioner to Islamabad, Ajay Bisaria, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the neighbouring country's government early on Thursday. Janjua conveyed to Bisaria that Pakistan rejected the objections raised by India to Qureshi's telephonic call to the Mirwaiz.

“We would like to reiterate that Kashmir is an outstanding dispute between India and Pakistan, and acknowledged as such through UN Security Council resolutions as well as numerous Pakistan-India documents including the Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration. The Kashmir issue remains on the agenda of the UN Security Council,” the MoFA of Pakistan government said in a statement released in Islamabad.

(Published 31 January 2019, 15:52 IST)

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