Blair backed India over Kashmir

Updated on May 12, 2007 02:09 AM IST

When Tony Blair departs from 10 Downing Street on June 27, he will leave behind a legacy that India will remember for a long time, writse Vijay Dutt.

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None | ByVijay Dutt, London

When Tony Blair departs from 10 Downing Street on June 27, he will leave behind a legacy that India will remember for a long time.

Blair's 10-year rule as Britain's prime minister marked a complete change in the British perception of the Indo-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir — engineering a radical turn-around of the government's policy on the issue — and a significant increase in bilateral trade and investment relations, so much so that British companies consider it "business critical" to have partnerships in India.

Blair's leadership was also crucial in mending the relations – which were fractured as a result of the Labour party's encouragement to Kashmir lobbies. Since 2000, the British government has iterated time and again in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords since 2000 that Britain would not arbitrate, and it was for the two parties to sit down and negotiate a solution.

This marked a paradigm shift in what was the government's stated policy that Britain, because of historic reasons, had the moral responsibility to help resolve the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan and that human rights violation must stop.

As the policy changed formed alliances, today, many groups are backing peace talks with the only proviso that Kashmiris be made a party to any settlement.

There has been significant increase in bilateral trade and investment relations. India is now one of the biggest investors in the UK and two-way trade of goods and services has doubled since 1993.

Eamail author: vdutt@aol.com

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