Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Friday that the debate on Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK) earlier in the week in the British parliament had made it clear that “Kashmir is not India’s internal issue.”
The foreign minister was referring to a debate moved in the House of Commons by Sarah Owen from Luton North on Jan 13 on the situation in occupied Kashmir.
Qureshi said in a statement that contrary to India’s portrayal of Kashmir as its internal issue, British parliamentarians had made clear that the issue was in fact a globally recognised dispute that had been addressed through several resolutions of the United Nations Security Council.
He termed the development in the UK as “success of Pakistan’s diplomatic approach” and a “source of encouragement for Kashmiris”, expressing confidence that such voices would further expose the “real face of India”.
“Pakistan has been exposing the ongoing Indian atrocities in IoK for a long [time] and now the same echo is being heard in the British parliament, endorsing Pakistan’s stance against India.”
Qureshi stressed the need for delegations from the US Congress, British parliament and the European parliament to visit IoK in order to get first hand information about the serious human rights violations and the law and order situation there.
He said the situation in occupied Kashmir was “extremely worrying” as millions of Indian troops continued persecution of Kashmiris. The foreign minister said life there was marked with extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests of Kashmiri youth, abuses of women, communication blockades and denial of access to independent observers.
About the upcoming administration of US President-elect Joe Biden, who is due to take oath on Jan 20, he said many congressmen were familiar with the region and the atrocities perpetrated against Kashmiris.
“We expect them to raise [their] voice in the US Congress to save the unarmed Kashmiris from Indian tyranny and prolong[ed] military siege,” he said.
An impassioned plea:
Earlier in the week, UK Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Owen from the Labour party made a moving speech in Westminster Hall, where a discussion took place on the situation in occupied Kashmir.
A vocal supporter of the Kashmiri people who has in the past expressed solidarity with those living under occupation, she called on the British government to do more to condemn the situation in Kashmir. In her speech, Owen highlighted how the pandemic had affected the everyday realities of Kashmiris.
“Muslims have reported being turned away from hospitals. This is shocking at the best of times, but especially so during a pandemic,” she said, adding: “There are numerous reports of Kashmiri women and girls being raped. Senior officials in the BJP put on record their intentions to make Kashmiri women a part of this conflict. And I have heard [that there are] women in Kashmir that are terrified of being assaulted by the thousands of soldiers on their doorstep. Women fear for their lives and do not feel safe.”
Owen is from Luton North, a constituency which has a significant number of British Pakistanis. The Pakistan diaspora across the United Kingdom has played a significant role in highlighting the plight of people living under Indian occupation in Kashmir, especially since August 2019 when the Narendra Modi-led government illegally stripped the valley of its special status.
British Pakistanis, many of whom have family in both Azad Jammu and Kashmir and in the Indian-occupied territory, have protested the Indian government’s move by writing letters to MPs, staging demonstrations and posting on social media.