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Volume 629: debated on Tuesday 17 October 2017

As the hon. Lady will recognise, the UK’s long-standing position is that it is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting solution to the situation in Kashmir, taking into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people. It is not for the UK either to prescribe some sort of solution or to play a mediation role.

In the context of continued reports of human rights violations in Kashmir, will the Minister commit to placing human rights and a peace process for Kashmir firmly on the table as part of any new trade and labour market negotiations with India and Pakistan?

I am very happy to do that. I visited India only last month and was able to discuss the Kashmiri situation. I am hoping to go to Pakistan in the next few weeks, and I will do likewise there. I think all of us in the House recognise that there are human rights concerns throughout both India-administered and Pakistan-administered Kashmir. We continue to encourage all states to ensure that domestic laws are in line with international standards but, as the hon. Lady rightly says, those human rights issues need to be taken into account when it comes to trade and all the other important work that goes on.

There have been threats from both sides to target nuclear facilities, and talks at the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation have broken down, so what exactly will the Government and the Foreign Secretary do to defuse those tensions and promote dialogue?

Obviously we will do our part within the international community—as a member of the P5 at the UN, for example—to encourage all sides to maintain a positive dialogue, but the pace and scope of that must be for India and Pakistan to determine. We cannot insist on that. As I have said, we will continue to discuss the Kashmiri issue at every opportunity, both here in London, and out in Islamabad or New Delhi.