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September 16, 2019

Lib Dem members express concern on IOK situation

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September 16, 2019

BOURNEMOUTH: Lords, MPs and MEPs of the Liberal Democrats have expressed deep concern on the humanitarian crisis in occupied Kashmir and urged India to restore the fundamental human rights of the Kashmiri people immediately.

During a reception hosted by the Liberal Democrats Friends of Pakistan at the annual party conference in Bournemouth on Saturday, the lawmakers also emphasised on the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute so Pakistan and India could focus on poverty alleviation and human development, a statement from the Pakistan High Commission said on Sunday.

The members reaffirmed the Lib Dems’ commitment to promoting mutually beneficial relations between Pakistan and the UK. They also acknowledged the huge economic potential of Pakistan that British businesses could benefit from and bring two countries further closer.

The room was packed to capacity by a large number of Lib Dems, as well as members of the civil society and human rights activists, where Pakistan High Commissioner Nafees Zakaria made a pitch to attract foreign investments to Pakistan.

Giving an overview of the economic opportunities in Pakistan, Zakaria said: “The country is rapidly gaining investors’ attention as the security challenge has been successfully overcome and infrastructure has significantly improved.”

He also shared with the audience a list of projects ready for investment. In particular, he invited the UK’s fintech and IT companies to set up their branches in Pakistan which is “the most competitive business destination in the region” in terms of price and availability of human resource.

Zakaria also spoke about the humanitarian crisis resulting from the Indian forces lockdown in occupied Kashmir, which has created food and medicine shortages in the region “causing unspeakable sufferings and deaths”.

He said the human rights of the Kashmiri people were being violated for decades. “These are crimes against humanity well documented by reputable international organisations like UNOHCHR, HRW, Amnesty International, International People’s Tribunal and others,” he added.

He also spoke about mass graves in IOK, enforced disappearances, fake encounters, deliberate mass blinding of youth with pellet guns, and rape of Kashmiri women as a tool to deter indigenous self-determination movement. He hoped that the UK would play its role in addressing the humanitarian crisis in Kashmir.

Earlier, during the first day of the Lib Dem conference, Zakaria met former Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable and several Lords, MEPs, MPs, party members and parliamentary candidates. He held useful discussions with them on a wide range of areas pertaining to bilateral economic cooperation, trade and investment promotion, and the Kashmir crisis.

In an expression of solidarity and out of humanitarian concern, the Lib Dem Muslims Forum has set up an exclusive stall under the title of ‘Lib Dem Friends of Kashmir’ to highlight Indian atrocities. They urged the UK government to work multilaterally within the EU, the Commonwealth, and the United Nations to ask India to the lockdown and release those arrested without warrants.

They also called for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to enter occupied Jammu and Kashmir and report on the state of affairs since August 5. The stall was visited by party conference delegates, who were there in the thousands, the statement said.

A special section was dedicated to the photographs depicting the human rights abuses in Kashmir which was keenly visited by the delegates of the conference. The high commissioner thanked Lib Dem Friends of Pakistan for organising the reception and affording him an opportunity to apprise the delegates of the economic opportunities on offer in Pakistan. Zuffar Haq MBE, Lib Dem’s parliamentary candidate moderated the reception.

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