Pakistan Foreign Minister addresses 'Azad Kashmir' conference in UK Parliament

Tuesday 05th February 2019 12:05 EST

The Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addressed a gathering in House of Commons to express "solidarity" with the people of Kashmir to 'end gross human rights violation in the occupied region'. The Indian media was not allowed entry, though it was projected as an 'open' event. On Tuesday hundreds of people supporting 'Azad Kashmir' cause stood outside the 10 Downing Street, in a rally aiming to highlight the alleged 'human rights atrocities and abuses by Indian government' across Kashmir.

This event was held in observance of Pakistan’s support of and unity with the people of Indian-administered Kashmir, the nationalists' efforts to separate from India, and to pay homage to Kashmiris who have died in the conflict.

At Monday's International Conference on Kashmir a resolution to express solidarity was presented by Lord Qurban Hussain and the event was chaired by Rehman Chishti, a Pakistan-occupied Kashmir-born Conservative Party MP. The event was organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Pakistan. The conference was reportedly attended by Azad Kashmir President Masood Khan, Pakistani-origin British MPs and peers, including Khalid Mahmood and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi. British Sikh Labour Party MP, Tan Dhesi, was among the few Indian-origin parliamentarians seen entering the room. Asian Voice had later approached him for a comment, but he was not available to speak to us.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that India has "strongly" taken up the issue with the UK and hopes "they do understand our objections to proposed conference (in British Parliament premises and take appropriate action". But in response, the UK government said Qureshi was not an official guest as he was on a private visit to Britain.

Kashmiri Pandits strike back 

Hindu organisations such as Indo Europe Kashmir Forum, Hindu Council of UK, Kashmiri Pandit Cultural Society UK and Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora urged British Indians to write to their locals MPs to protest against the Kashmir Solidarity Rally on 5th February.

In July last year, more than 200 campaigners had called Kashmiri independence in Birmingham City Centre with placards highlighting alleged human rights abuses in Kashmir. The rally was organised by Balsall Heath based campaign group the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Council (JKLC).

The Kashmiri Pandits and Hindus in the UK who recently observed the 'Exodus day' on 17th January, strongly opposed the Tuesday rally calling it “dangerous and threatening the measures to the rehabilitations of Kashmiri Hindus back to their homeland.”

Speaking to Asian Voice exclusively, Krishna Bhan on behalf of 'Indo Europe Kashmir Forum, Hindu Council of UK, Kashmiri Pandit Cultural Society UK and Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora' said, “We are planning a counter rally in March. What human rights violations are the Pakistanis talking about? It was the Kashmiri Pandits who lost everything in Kashmir and had to leave their homes.

“The Government of India and the authorities in the State of Jammu and Kashmir have taken actions fully in accordance with the fundamental principles of the Indian Constitution which has the protection of human rights firmly enshrined.

“Jammu and Kashmir has been a target of Pakistan sponsored terrorism for several decades and terrorists have been responsible for serious human rights violations of Kashmiri Hindus that has been witnessed by the world.

“Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, and shall remain an integral part of India. We don’t subscribe to this fake Kashmir solidarity rally.”

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