Created: 15 September 2011
In a recent debate on the Human rights situation on the Indian Subcontinent Bob Spoke about human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir:
“ Millions of British citizens have a family origin from the Indian subcontinent, so it is right for this mother of Parliaments to debate not only human rights there, but security on the Indian subcontinent as well. First, I should add my thanks to my hon. Friends the Members for Wycombe (Steve Baker) and for Ilford North (Mr Scott) for securing the debate, and to the Backbench Business Committee for allowing it to take place in the Chamber. It is, however, unfortunate that we are bracketing the bloody civil war that took place in Sri Lanka with the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Now that the civil war has ended, there must be reconciliation, peace and an inquiry into what happened in Sri Lanka.
I want to focus on Jammu and Kashmir. Having grown up with Indians over many years, I have debated and talked about this issue for some 25 to 30 years. We must recognise that India is the greatest democracy in the world, with 1 billion people having the opportunity to vote. It is often forgotten that there are more Muslims in India than in the whole of Pakistan and Bangladesh combined; it is a truly secular state, which offers equal opportunity to people of all religions. It has also been the subject of many terrorist atrocities, most of which, it is claimed, emanate from the state of Pakistan. Naturally therefore, the Indian Government are concerned about whether Pakistan can be trusted.
The seeds of this mistrust lie in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. We cannot forget the origin of the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir. As other Members have said, it was this House that made the decision to allow India and Pakistan to secede and set up their own states. Jammu and Kashmir had the opportunity of joining either India or Pakistan. While it deliberated, Pakistan invaded. There is an illegally occupied area of Kashmir, therefore: the area that is Pakistani-controlled. The area that is administered by India represents what was wanted by the people of Jammu and Kashmir at the time of secession. All the atrocities that have taken place on both sides of the dividing line should be investigated, and both sides should be held to account.
Let us compare the two states in their current forms, however. In Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, all political parties can debate and stand for elections. In fact, there was an 85% turnout for this year’s local elections in Jammu and Kashmir. All Members of this House would like to see such a turnout for a general election, let alone a local election. By contrast, in Pakistani-administered Kashmir political parties are allowed to form and agitate only provided they accept Pakistan’s right to rule Kashmir—that is not even-handed in any extreme. We must seek to even out the position and make sure that people understand that the current position is not even. We have heard far too often this afternoon about the position in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, and not enough about Pakistani-occupied Kashmir. We need to make sure that we have an even balance and that the people who are here get the opportunity to air their grievances.”
To read this entire debate in full, follow Click HERE