Kashmir

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:45 pm on 7th March 2019.

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Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Minister of State 12:45 pm, 7th March 2019

I thank my hon. Friend for that. I am well aware of the work he does with a significant Kashmiri population in his constituency, and I have had a chance to meet some of the main community leaders there. I would not wish him to think there has been too much of an evolution of the Government policy, but what I have seen, having spoken at great length to our high commissioners in Islamabad and New Delhi, is a recognition that one area where we can and will assist, as we have done, is through the breadth of our diplomatic knowledge on the ground. We are able to have lines of communication open with diplomats, politicians and the military on both sides, which we hope will enable us to assist. But it would be wrong to assume that we are in any way going to try to put our own template or mediate there. I would not want the House to be in any doubt that a huge amount of work does go on in our diplomatic community, which will continue.

I know that my hon. Friend takes the Kashmiri issue very seriously and he is right to say that this is perhaps an important international wake-up call, when progress can be made. We are perhaps reluctant to make a comparison with what happened in Northern Ireland, but the single worst attack on civilians there, in Omagh, in 1998, finally became the moment when many, not only in Northern Ireland but in surrounding countries, thought that something fundamentally had to change. That was the path towards the Good Friday agreement.