UK asks India, Pak to sort out Kashmir, end violence at LoC

3:43 PM, Friday, November 25th, 2016
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Boris JohnsonIslamabad: Britain asked India and Pakistan to find a “lasting” solution to the Kashmir issue amid an escalation in tension, but made it clear that it was not for the UK to “prescribe a solution or act as a mediator”.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who is on his first visit to Islamabad, said “we call for an end to the violence”.

“The longstanding position of the UK is that is it for India and Pakistan to find a lasting solution to the situation in Kashmir taking into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people,” Johnson told reporters at a joint press conference with Adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.

But, he added, it was not for Britain to “prescribe a solution or act as a mediator” over the “disputed” region.

Johnson said “we are concerned about recent incidents on both sides of the Line of Control” and called for a solution, taking into account the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

Tension between India and Pakistan have increased after the attack on an Indian Army base in Uri on September 18 and the resultant “surgical strike” on terrorist launchpads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir by the army 10 days later. Since then, cross-border firings have increased killing soldiers and civilians on both sides.

Yesterday, 12 people, including three Pakistani soldiers, were killed in alleged Indian cross-border firings. India’s response came after the Indian Army warned of “heavy retribution” following the killing of three of its soldiers, with the body of one of them mutilated in a cross-LoC attack.

Pakistan denied as “false” and “baseless” its troops were responsible for the mutilation and deaths of Indian soldiers.

However, Aziz today said Pakistan has briefed the British delegation about increase in tension on the LoC as he stressed the need for dialogue with India “otherwise these issues would become more serious.”

Talking about the “incredible” human and economic potential of the region, Johnson said “imagine what the future could be like if this was sorted out.” He said the “mutual sequestration” of the India-Pakistan economies was holding back the region from becoming a “boomzone”.

Aziz said Pakistan and the UK have been cooperating under the framework of enhanced strategic dialogue since 2011. “The two sides had already agreed to three new road-maps on trade and investment, culture and education and security,” he said.

Johnson said it was important for the UK and Pakistan to work together for security and stability of the entire region.

He said there was a “vast potential” to increase the bilateral trade to the mutual benefit of the two countries.

Aziz said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has extended an invitation to his British counterpart to visit Pakistan next year.

Johnson is on a two-day visit to Pakistan.


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