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Kashmir

Volume 569: debated on Tuesday 29 October 2013

The UK is deeply concerned about recent violent incidents in Kashmir. These incidents have caused regrettable loss of life on both sides of the line of control. We welcome the call for dialogue from both sides in response to these incidents and the steps they are taking to prevent future hostilities.

The territorial dispute in Kashmir is the longest running in the world. It is a particular issue for many of my constituents, and the violence and human rights abuses have spanned decades. I have been disappointed with the Minister’s response. What specifically can he tell me about action being taken on conflict resolution programmes in this area?

The first thing to put on the record is that we believe any solution should be between the two Governments of India and Pakistan. We welcome progress made in September during a meeting of both Prime Ministers in New York. The British Government do help, and we have had discussions on human rights as recently as last month. From our conflict pool, we support key work on projects to promote trade, development and capacity building in the area.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that Jammu and Kashmir are part of India and that part of India they should stay until such time as India says otherwise? Will the Government take action to ensure that state-sponsored terrorism in this disputed territory is not allowed to continue?

It is precisely for that last reason that we urge discussions between the two countries, and I am pleased to report that some progress has been made. Along with other positive measures, both countries have agreed to double bilateral trade by 2014 and India has lifted a ban on direct investment from Pakistan. As the hon. Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams) said, however, this is a long-running conflict, and we stand by to help; but ultimately it can be resolved only by the two countries in question.