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Volume 515: debated on Tuesday 14 September 2010

It is not for the United Kingdom Government either to prescribe, or mediate in, a solution to the situation in Kashmir. It is the long-standing policy of the British Government that this is a matter for the Indian and Pakistan Governments, taking into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that. Does he agree that many British Kashmiris, particularly those in Wycombe, hold this Government to account for the actions of our forebears in relation to Kashmir and its predicament?

I hear the sentiment from my hon. Friend. I must say that the British Government work on, and devote resources to, assisting with conflict resolution in Kashmir, tackling human rights concerns and helping to build confidence on both sides of the line of control. With that confidence, we then continue to ensure that there is a dialogue with the Indian and Pakistan Governments, because the resolution of this long-standing situation is for them, taking into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

I recall that the last time I raised the issue of Kashmir on the Floor of the House the Secretary of State was going to refresh his memory on the British Government’s position on Kashmir. I hope not only that he has had an opportunity to do that but, given the further increased violence in the region of late, he will consider that it is the position of the British Government to mediate where there are conflict areas, particularly given the historical impact that Britain has had on that region; indeed, it has possibly caused some of the problems there. Will he or his Minister commit to thinking carefully about whether the British Government’s position can be changed slightly to ensure that we can mediate in that area?

It has been a difficult summer. The television pictures of yesterday’s violence in Kashmir shine a spotlight on the situation, but they emphasise, yet again, how important it is for a long-standing resolution to be achieved. It should be, and the long-standing position of the British Government has been, that this resolution has got to be achieved through dialogue between the Governments of India and Pakistan, taking into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people. What the events of the summer and of yesterday have shown is that there is increasing concern, and that should increase the emphasis that the Governments should place on finding a resolution to the situation.