UK ‘deeply concerned’ about Kashmir crisis but won’t interfere, says foreign office minister

UK ‘deeply concerned’ about Kashmir crisis but won’t interfere, says foreign office minister
The British government has said it is working closely with international partners in a bid to de-escalate India-Pakistan tensions, but that it will not seek to act as a mediator between the two countries.

It’s believed at least 40 paramilitary Indian police officers were killed just over two weeks ago in a suicide attack in India-administered Kashmir. In retaliation, India carried out air strikes this Tuesday targeting what the country said was a militant camp in Pakistan.

Subsequent air strikes carried out by Pakistan on Wednesday led to an Indian plane being shot down in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and the pilot taken hostage.

The downed pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, was handed over to Indian authorities on Friday afternoon in what Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan described as a “peace gesture”.

Speaking in the House of Commons earlier in the week, foreign office minister Mark Field said: “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.”

Mr Field said the UK’s foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt had spoken to his Indian and Pakistani counterparts on Monday to discuss the situation, adding that the government was in “regular contact with both countries at senior levels” to encourage restraint and to avoid escalating tensions further.

The government said it was also considering the implications for British nationals.

Main image: Houses of Parliament, London. CREDIT: Amir Rabbani / CC-BY-SA 3.0

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