Former Minister Tells Commons India Needs to Move on Kashmir

There will be no stability and peace in Pakistan until India deals with the Kashmir problem by removing its 500,000 strong army in the region and allows the Pakistani military to focus on its western borders the former Foreign Office minister, Dr Denis MacShane, told the House of Commons.

Speaking in the Commons, MacShane, the Labour MP for Rotherham, also welcomed the statements by US President-elect Obama highlighting the importance of Kashmir and the need for India to contribute to a solution. In an exchange with the Foreign Office Minister, Bill Rammell, who is responsible for the region, MacShane said:

Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): Stability in Pakistan will be difficult to achieve while the Kashmir conundrum continues. Does the Minister welcome President-elect Obama’s underlining of Kashmir as an issue that America will have to address? Does the Minister also agree that the presence of half a million Indian troops in Kashmir means that Pakistan keeps most of its military on its eastern flank, instead of focusing on its western flank and helping us in Afghanistan?

Bill Rammell: The situation in Kashmir remains an important concern, and we are urging all parties to commit themselves and to support the composite dialogue in that regard. (Hansard Official report 11 November 2008)

The Rotherham MP said it was important that as the world community starts a new era of international relations with the election of a new US president and the world economic leadership by Gordon Brown the need to find a solution to the denial of political and human rights in Kashmir was urgent. "India maintains an army in Kashmir ten times the size of all the forces engaged in Afghanistan to stop jihadi Taliban terrorists from taking back control. India can play a constructive world role by allowing freedom for the people of Kashmir and remove the giant Indian army from the region. Stability on Pakistan’s eastern flank would allow Pakistan to engage with the anti-democratic forces promoting terrorism and dictatorship under the guise of the Taliban and jihadi fundamentalism."