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Starmer insists Labour’s Kashmir policy unchanged following backlash

22nd May 2020
Starmer insists Labour’s Kashmir policy unchanged following backlash

(Photo credit: Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament | Kashmir photo: Seyyed Sajed Hassan Razavi/WikiCommons)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Labour Leader, Sir Keir Starmer, was forced to clarify he has “not changed” the party’s policy on Kashmir after a previous statement suggested a revised pro-India policy. This caused an uproar among Muslim groups, human rights organisations as well as opposition from 50 Labour MPs.

Labour, under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, passed an emergency motion at a conference last year stating that Kashmir “is a disputed territory and the people of Kashmir should be given the right of self-determination in accordance with United Nations resolutions.”

The motion was passed following India’s decision to strip the region of its semi-autonomy and downgraded it into two federal territories.

In a meeting with the executive members of Labour Friends of India group on April 30, Starmer said that the Kashmir crises were a bilateral issue for India and Pakistan.

He added that such, “issues of the subcontinent” should not “divide communities here” and that they were “constitutional issues in India and a matter for the Indian parliament. Any constitutional issues in India are a matter for the Indian Parliament, and Kashmir is a bilateral issue for India and Pakistan to resolve peacefully. Labour is an internationalist party and stands for the defence of human rights everywhere,” said Starmer.

He was immediately warned by the Vice-Chair of London Labour Seema Chanwani, “Starmer cannot meet with an unaffiliated unaccountable group of people and change the Conference position on Kashmir unilaterally.”

And Chair of Labour Friends of Kashmir, Andrew Gwynne MP, told Starmer that the nearly one-million strong British Kashmiri community is anguished after his controversial comments on the issue of India-occupied Kashmir. According to media reports, 50 Labour MPs had participated in a video conference with Starmer on May 7 and told him of their opposition to his statement.

‘It is a matter of international law, of which the United Kingdom has a specific interest in seeing the matter properly resolved within the terms of the UNSC resolutions (both as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and as the former colonial power which left the status of Kashmir ambiguous upon the granting of independence to India and Pakistan),’ said Gwynne in a letter to Starmer.

Following a week of backlash — which included a warning by over 100 mosques and Islamic centres threatening to boycott Labour — Starmer seemingly u-turned and insisted a lasting settlement may only be reached “with the people of Kashmir.”

In a revised statement issued in a letter to the Muslim Council of Britain on May 8, Starmer stresses the importance of hearing “the voices of the Kashmiri communities” and insisted the opposition will continue to support the previous UN resolutions on the rights of the Kashmiri people.

One Response to “Starmer insists Labour’s Kashmir policy unchanged following backlash”

BalramMay 24, 2020

But it is a bilateral issue. India was in favour for self-determination way before Porkistan was. I feel sorry for Keir Starmer, he is trying to stay neutral but you are too busy bullying him into your views.

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