A proposed debate in the British House of Commons on the “political and humanitarian situation in Kashmir” on Thursday has enraged the Indian government as well as opposition parties.
The debate is scheduled to take place as Jammu and Kashmir is grappling with its worst floods in more than a century.
“As far as Kashmir is considered, India and Pakistan act in accordance with the Shimla and Lahore agreements. There is no third stakeholder in this issue, only two – India and Pakistan. Every country must realize and respect this,” said Sambit Patra, spokesperson of the ruling BJP.
The Congress called the move in Britain “unacceptable” and said India should formally protest.
“What if we start discussing England’s rights violations in Ireland?” questioned Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit.
David Ward, a Liberal Democrat MP, sought the debate in which government as well as opposition spokesmen will participate. Mr Ward represents Bradford East in the House of Commons. Bradford city has the biggest Pakistani-origin population in Britain. In the past, such constituents have been known to pressurise their MPs to censure India on Kashmir.
The debate will not take place in the main chamber of the House of Commons, but in a committee room in Britain’s Houses of Parliament. Its contents will be officially recorded.
The Deputy High Commissioner for India in the UK, Dr Virander Paul, said on the weekend: “From time to time, we find that there are certain tendencies in certain sections of the society, which are not in the interest of our strong relations.”
He did not mention the debate but his remarks appeared aimed at Vince Cable, a senior cabinet minister present at the function, who is a long-standing Liberal Democrat leader.
In 2011, when British parliamentarians debated Kashmir, there were several more pro-Pakistan speakers than pro-India speakers.