UK has a duty to speak out on Kashmir

30th Aug 2019
UK has a duty to speak out on Kashmir

Demonstrators protest against the scrapping of the special constitutional status in Kashmir by the Indian government, outside the Indian High Commission in London, August 15 (Photo: Ahmed J Versi/Muslim News)

As the former colonial power, Britain has a historic responsibility not only to speak out but to act against India’s decision to scrap the protected status of Jammu and Kashmir.

As if underlining the special role, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, used the 73rd anniversary of independence and fateful decision to divide the country to announce the revocation of Article 370 as well as the illegal contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 47, which requires the establishment of a coalition government to work with the ‘Plebiscite Administrator’ nominated by the United Nations, towards ‘a free and impartial plebiscite.’

As the MCB and MPs have urged the UK Government to put a halt to India’s inflammatory actions as hundreds of thousands of its troops continue to lay siege on Kashmir and curtail further the rights of its people. Its political leaders have also been placed under house arrest and communications have been all but cut off. Hundreds of thousands of British Muslims have family ties to the region and are naturally anxious about the deteriorating situation there.

“As a member of the UN Security Council, with a stated desire to uphold the rules-based international system, it is imperative that our Government makes its voice heard. British Muslims, many of whom have family ties to the region, expect our Government to uphold our values, the rule of law and human rights.” MCB  Secretary-General, Harun Khan said. “India’s latest action further turns this Muslim-majority region’s status into effectively an Indian colony. And with rising extremism and mob-violence orchestrated against Muslims in the rest of the country, there is a deep concern about the fate of Muslims in Kashmir.”

The MCB also echoed called by British MPs calling for action on the matter. “We do not want to see yet another senseless conflict over Kashmir, which will have repercussions elsewhere. We urge all parties to play their part in pursuing peace. The UK has a historic role and duty to press for peace in Kashmir,” Khan said.

Over 45 MPs and peers co-signed a letter written by Labour MP for Warrington South, Faisal Rashid calling on the UN  Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to intervene and prevent India’s unconstitutional attack on Kashmir’s autonomy. The letter terms the unilateral Indian decision a direct attack on the political status of Kashmir and its right to self-governance. It says revocation of Article 370 would have far-reaching and dangerous consequences for the region.

“We also note that PM Modi has long been an exponent of militaristic, hostile anti-Muslim views as the political figurehead of a far-right Hindu-nationalist movement. His administration has overseen an aggressive erosion of the legal and constitutional foundations on which the Indian republic stands.

Revocation of Article 370 represents a significant escalation of this process in what is the only Indian-occupied Muslim majority state. As Secretary-General, we call on you to urgently bring this matter to the attention of the Security Council as a serious threat to the maintenance of international peace and security,” it said.

It is sad to see that our Government has not only refused to condemn but also to criticise the brutal clampdown of ordinary Kashmiris. It seems Boris Johnson’s Tory Government does not care about their human rights. What if the tables were turned, and it was a Muslim country that had usurped a Hindu majority country and had disregarded their human rights?

We are quite sure the UK’s response would have been robust. Last week, Johnson spoke by telephone to India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. The Tory Prime Minister gave a free pass to Modi by stating that the UK “views the issue of Kashmir is one for India and Pakistan to resolve bilaterally.” And that it was important to resolve the issues “through dialogue”!

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