Human Rights in Kashmir

Toronto: December 21, 2011: The UK welcomes the renewed engagement between India and Pakistan and also calls for an improvement in the human rights situation in Kashmir.  Foreign and Commonwealth Office in a letter to Mr. Mushtaq A. Jeelani, Executive Director of Peace and Justice Forum (PJF), thanked him for his letter to Prime Minister David Cameron about Kashmir.  Mr. Geoffrey Harrison (South Asia Department) writes: “The UK regularly raises the importance of finding a lasting resolution to the situation in Kashmir with the Governments of both India and Pakistan.” Adding: “But the long standing position of the UK is that it is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting resolution to the situation in Kashmir,” furthermore underlining “one which takes into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people.” However, “It is not for the UK to prescribe a solution or to mediate in finding one.”  Mr. Harrison states, “We [The UK] continue to call for an improvement in the human rights situation in both Indian and Pakistan administered Kashmir and for an end to external support for violence in Kashmir.” He adds: “To this end the UK funds human rights, conflict prevention and peace building efforts on both sides of the Line of Control, including efforts to help build confidence in order to create a constituency for peace.”  Mr. Harrison underscores: “Your [PJF] letter raises your [PJF] concern at conduct of the Indian military in Indian administered Kashmir.” Further emphasising, “We [The UK] are aware of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) to which you [PJF] refer. The issue of the security legislation including the AFSPA in certain regions of India, was raised with the Indian Government during the recent EU-India Human Rights Dialogue.” The letter continues, “[Indian] Prime Minister Singh has also said that violations of human rights abuse by security forces in Kashmir would not be tolerated and he instructed security forces to respect human rights.”  Mr. Harrison concludes, “Finally, we [the UK] welcome the renewed engagement between India and Pakistan but the scope and pace of this dialogue is for them both to agree so that they can build confidence to enable discussion on a range of issues.”

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