British MP accuses India of ignoring alleged rights abuses in Valley
Islamabad British parliamentarian Debbie Abrahams, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group (APPKG) in the British House of Commons, accused New Delhi on Wednesday of not responding to the world’s concern on alleged human rights abuses in the valley.
At a joint press conference with Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Islamabad, Abrahams welcomed Pakistan’s stance of having a third UN report issued on human rights violations along both sides of the Line of Control (LoC), adding that it showed the openness of the approach taken by Islamabad.
“I hope India will reciprocate as well,” she said.
India denied her entry when she arrived in New Delhi on Monday, on what she said was a private visit after revoking her e-visa for engaging in activities against India’s national interest.
India’s move in August to divest Jammu and Kashmir of its special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate the erstwhile state into two Union territories has been criticised by some Western parliamentarians. The moves were accompanied by a security lockdown and the preventive detention of many politicians in the region.
A delegation of the APPKG, a group of parliamentarians from the United Kingdom led by Abrahams, was scheduled to visit both sides of the LoC to evaluate the human rights situation in the region.
“When we were planning this trip, we wanted to make sure that the delegation visited both India and Jammu & Kashmir and had access in the same way we have been facilitated by the Pakistani government,” said Abrahams, adding: “But I have had no responses to my requests for a delegation to go to Jammu & Kashmir [on India’s side]. I hope India will take the opportunity to reflect on Pakistan’s approach to addressing the issues that it has faced in different parts of the country and how they are responding to the report from the UN [...] and take the opportunity to become more open […] We are an independent group, we are not anti-India or pro-Pakistan, we are pro-human rights.”
Abrahams said: “We [the group] had a very full and frank discussion with the foreign minister. I am very grateful to him and to the Pakistani government for facilitating this independent trip of the group from the UK parliament.
“We sought to visit Pakistan and Azad Kashmir so that we could understand in more detail about what was happening and to speak with people there. We also sought to visit India and Jammu and Kashmir, but unfortunately that hasn’t happened. Hopefully it will happen in the future,” she said.
The Pakistan foreign minister said the Kashmir issue was not an “internal matter” as had been claimed by the Indian government.
“It was answered very well by UN secretary general Antonio Guterres [during his visit to Pakistan] when he categorically said that the Security Council resolutions are as relevant now as they used to be before,” Qureshi said in response to a question.