‘Won’t adopt anti-India, anti-Pakistan stand on Kashmir’: UK’s Labour Party
The Labour party on Monday reiterated its human rights-focussed perspective on Jammu and Kashmir, but hailed the contribution of the 1.5 million-strong Indian community in the UK to assuage feelings on the issue, as the December 12 election draws near.
After Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in October signalled a rowing back in the face of anger in New Delhi and the community over the party’s recent resolution on Jammu and Kashmir widely considered anti-India, party chairman Ian Lavery released an open letter on the issue.
He wrote: “The Labour party will not adopt any anti-India or anti-Pakistan position over Kashmir. We are motivated by our desire to protect human rights of all people in the current situation, and I am confident that this is a position you will share”.
“Kashmir is a bilateral matter for India and Pakistan to resolve together by means of a peaceful solution which protects the human rights of the Kashmiri people and respects their right to have a say in their own future,” he added.
Reiterating that the party is opposed to external interference in the political affairs of any other country, he insisted that as an internationalist party, its concern is to ensure respect for the human rights of all people in the world, regardless of where they live.
Reacting to the resolution passed at the party’s annual conference on September, the MEA spokesperson said in New Delhi: “The government has noted certain developments at the Labour Party Conference on September 25 pertaining to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.”
“We regret the uninformed and unfounded positions taken at this event. Clearly, this is an attempt at pandering to vote-bank interests. There is no question of engaging with the Labour Party or its representatives on this issue.”
Labour MPs of Indian origin and others with large numbers of Indian origin voters in their constituencies have since faced a backlash from sections of the Indian community, with messages on social media appealing to vote against the party.
Lavery added: “The Labour party is fully aware of the sensitivities that exist over the situation in Kashmir. We recognize that the language used in the emergency motion has caused offense in some sections of the Indian diaspora and in India itself”.
“We are adamant that the deeply felt and genuinely felt differences on the issue of Kashmir must not be allowed to divide communities against each other here in the UK…The Labour party holds the Indian diaspora community in the highest regard.”
“We respect and celebrate the immense contribution which Indians of all backgrounds have made to the UK in business, medicine, the arts and so many other fields. I am proud that Labour counts many people of Indian origin at all levels of our party and the broader labour movement.”
In October, Corbyn had admitted in a letter to the Labour Friends of India – a lobby group within the Labour party – that “some of the language” used in the resolution was open to misinterpretation.
“The Labour Party is committed to ensuring that human rights of all citizens of Kashmir are respected and upheld. This remains our priority and I agree that we should not allow the politics of the sub-continent to divide communities here in Britain,” he added.