APPG on Kashmir meet with Minister for South Asia & the Pacific
All Party Parliamentary Group on Kashmir met with Mark Field MP the FCO Minister for South Asia and the Pacific yesterday to discuss the situation in Kashmir
The meeting was attended by myself (Chair of the APPG) along with Imran Hussain MP (Senior Vice Chair), Lord Qurban Hussain (Group Secretary), Jack Brereton MP (Vice Chair), Afzal Khan MP (Hon Vice President), Chris Leslie MP (former Chair), Julie Cooper MP, Khalid Mahmood MP, Yasmin Qureshi MP, Faisal Rashid MP, and Mohammed Yasin MP.
The group discussed the recently published APPG Report on Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as the UNHRC Report on Human Rights in India-controlled Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan-controlled Azad Kashmir. Both reports highlighted the need for a reconciliation process between India and Pakistan, as well as repealing laws such as the Armed Forces Special Power Act and the Public Safety Act in Jammu & Kashmir.
Concerns were raised of a potential escalation of oppressive actions by the Indian security forces ahead of this year’s election, in addition to the frequent cross-firing along the Line Of Control (LOC) and the impact on the civilians on both sides of Kashmir. Members of the group believed that the human cost and long terms effects on families divided by the LOC cannot be underestimated.
The broader issue of the APPG visiting Jammu & Kashmir as well as Azad Kashmir was also part of the discussion.
The Group urged the Minister to raise the issues outlined in both the APPG and UN reports with his counterparts in India and Pakistan, and at the UK Government playing a more active role in helping to facilitate peace and reconciliation talks between India and Pakistan.
As chair of the APPG Chair, I am very grateful to the Minister for meeting with us and for being so open regarding the difficulties facing the region. His agreement to meet regularly with us was most welcome.
Mr Field acknowledged the appalling loss of life on both sides of the line of control over the last 2 years, recognising the nearly 600 people who had died last year in Jammu and Kashmir. He praised the APPG for the work it is doing in highlighting not just the issues but practical ways forward. The Minister discussed a forthcoming visit to India and I hope he will take the opportunity to raise our concerns with the Indian authorities.