London: British Members of Parliament Mike Gapes MP member Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Sir Gerald Kaufman MP, Clive Betts MP Chairman Communities and Local Government Select Committee, Steve Baker MP, David Ward MP and Jason McCartney MP called for empowering Kashmiri Voices in the India Pakistan dialogue process to resolve long standing Kashmir conflict according to the wishes and aspirations of Kashmiri people. The highly influential and respected members of parliament were speaking at a Parliamentary reception hosted by Simon Danczuk MP to help Kashmir Development Foundation (KDF) an indigenous Kashmiri development organisation to showcase their work to empower the voice of under-represented people and communities.
Simon Danczuk MP welcomed the members of parliament support for empowering Kashmiri voices. He emphasised the need for the recognition and inclusion of Kashmiri cultural heritage and national identity in ethnic monitoring systems in the UK.
The Executive Director of Kashmir Development Foundation Sardar Aftab Khan highlighted the importance of Kashmiri narrative in the wider discourse on Jammu and Kashmir conflict and explained how the Kashmiri Diaspora can play an effective role in peacebuilding in Jammu and Kashmir. He said: “Kashmir society is intrinsically an open society. We have a centuries old ethos of multi-ethnic, multi-religious co-existence, but this openness is threatened by prolonged conflict. We need to secure our open society from danger of unresolved Kashmir issue. The people of Jammu and Kashmir are striving for a peaceful society – a society where people have right to life, liberty and security. They are in a struggle to secure their right of freedom, a freedom from the five faces of oppression: violence, economic exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness and cultural imperialism.”
Mike Gapes MP, member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee said: “India and Pakistan didn’t involve Kashmiris in the dialogue process started some fifteen years ago. Although both countries have made some progress, domestic politics within India and Pakistan will influence the decisions made by governments. It’s a very different context now, there is an election coming up – looks like Modi might win, and not sure what that will mean in terms of the impact on the India Pakistan dialogue over Kashmir. In Pakistan, there is a democratic government, but we know that the democratic government does n’t control all of Pakistani politics.
Sir Gerald Kaufman MP said: “the Kashmir Issue is longest standing international issue in the world – longer even than Palestine – taken to UN Security Council, by India. It’s a shame on the international community that this issue has not been resolved. It’s not just about the dreadful humanitarian atrocities, this is a situation of world crisis – both India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons, and they have fought several wars over Kashmir.
Steve Baker MP and David Ward MP stressed the need for bringing professionalism in the Kashmiris’ campaign for their rights and forging links with all communities.
Jason McCartney MP said: “Time is coming for self-determination. We’re going to have a referendum in Scotland and on the EU within the UK, so I think the time is coming for self-determination around the world. Often I hear of atrocities in Kashmiri– it is important that we have clear, transparent reporting of what’s happening in Kashmir – we need to get this issue out there, on the UK and world stage.”