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HVK Archives: Cook claims 'legitimate' UK interest in Kashmir

Cook claims 'legitimate' UK interest in Kashmir - The Asian Age

Trevor Barnard ()
30 October 1997

Title: Cook claims 'legitimate' UK interest in Kashmir
Author: Trevor Barnard
Publication: The Asian Age
Date: October 30, 1997

British foreign secretary Robin Cook believes that Kashmir is an area of
"legitimate interest" to Britain because both India and Pakistan have
"nuclear potential." He expressed this view in answer to a question in the
House of Commons regarding his recent visit to the subcontinent.

The questioner, Conservative MP Geoffrey Clinton-Brown, asked him:
"Following your notorious visit to Pakistan and India, wouldn't the best
way to solve the Kashmiri problem be for a period of quiet reflection from
the British government? Doesn't the difficult problem of Kashmir
demonstrate that it would be extremely dangerous for the British government
to act as any form of arbiter in this problem?"

Mr Cook replied that Britain continued to be willing to help, but any offer
of help had to be acceptable to both countries. He added: "While any
solution is primarily for both countries to find, if it is to be
permanently acceptable, it must be acceptable to all peoples of Kashmir,
whether they be Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists."

Answering another question, he denied that government "spin doctors" had
tried "to foist the blame for the, difficulties of the royal visit to India
on the British high commissioner, Sir David Gore-Booth. He said Sir David
had "behaved with great dignity in sometimes very difficult circumstances."

A further indication that British politicians will not allow the Kashmir
issue to die down has come in an "early day motion" tabled by three Labour
MPs calling on the government to support vigorously" the United Nations
resolutions of 1948, 1949 and 1957 and the "right of the Kashmiri people to
determine a political future of their own choice."

An early day motion never reaches the floor of the Commons for debate. It
is a device to direct attention to a particular point of view, and has been
used several times in recent years by MPs representing Pakistani and
Kashmiri communities to keep the issue of Kashmir alive. One of those
moving the current motion is Marsha Singh, a Sikh who represents a
constituency in Bradford, where there is a large Pakistani and Kashmiri
population.


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