Jammu and Kashmir

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:47 pm on 27th February 2019.

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Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Minister of State 12:47 pm, 27th February 2019

I understand that the Prime Minister referred to this during Prime Minister’s Question Time. The UK is deeply concerned about rising tensions between India and Pakistan. Understandably, there has been huge interest in this rapidly developing situation. The House will understand that it would not be appropriate for me to comment in detail on reportage at this time, as the situation evolves.

We understand that on 14 February, at least 40 paramilitary Indian police officers were killed in a suicide attack in India-administered Kashmir. The Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for that attack. India-Pakistan tensions, which were already at a high level, rose significantly following the attack, and both countries publicly exchanged heated rhetoric. On Tuesday 26 February, Indian and Pakistani news reported that Indian jets had crossed the line of control between India-administered and Pakistan-administered Kashmir. There have been reports of further ceasefire violations across the line of control overnight, and the situation remains unclear but fast developing.

The Foreign Secretary spoke to his Indian and Pakistani counterparts on Monday to discuss the situation, and we are in regular contact with both countries at senior levels to encourage restraint and to avoid escalating tensions further. We are monitoring developments closely and considering the implications for British nationals. I will be speaking to both the Indian and Pakistani high commissioners this afternoon and will continue to press for the importance of restraint. We urge both sides to engage in dialogue and find diplomatic solutions to ensure regional stability. We are working closely with international partners, including through the United Nations Security Council, to de-escalate tensions.

India and Pakistan are both long-standing and important friends of the United Kingdom. We have many and significant links to both countries through sizeable diaspora communities. As a consequence, we enjoy strong bilateral relations with both nations. The UK Government’s position on Kashmir remains that it is and must be for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political resolution to this situation, taking into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people. It is not for the UK to prescribe, intervene or interfere with a solution or to act as mediator.

I know that the House has previously raised concerns about the humanitarian and human rights situation in both India-administered Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Kashmir. We continue to monitor the situation, and we encourage all states to ensure that their domestic standards are in line with international standards.