“Private Visit”: UK Snubs Pak Foreign Minister’s Trip Seeking To Highlight Kashmir

Team SNI New Delhi 4 February 2019

Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi who arrived in London on Sunday to participate in an event to show “solidarity” with the people of Kashmir will not be getting a meeting with his British counterpart Jeremy Hunt. Or, for that matter, any other UK government officials.

Indeed, with the visit turned into a private one, it’s taken the sheen off the Pak foreign minister’s London trip seeking to once again internationalise the Kashmir issue. Pakistan has also sought to needle India on the Kashmir issue with Qureshi first speaking to separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and later Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani last week.

Angered by what it sees as an “orchestrated campaign” launched by Pakistan with regard to Kashmir, New Delhi had, prior to Qureshi’s arrival in London, conveyed its displeasure to the UK government while asking that that “their territory and country should not be used for anti-India sentiments or anti-India rally and conferences.”

Further, India has said the conference itself “exposes Pakistan duplicity when they talk about peace on the one hand and at the same time they are working together with forces which are pushing or fomenting anti-India sentiments.”

Seeking to distance itself from the Pak foreign minister’s visit, the British High Commission spokesperson in New Delhi responded by saying that he was “travelling to London to attend a number of private events. There are no plans for meetings with the UK government during this visit.”

As for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pakistan (APPG-Pakistan), which comprises MPs from both the Conservative and the Labour parties, meeting Qureshi who is slated to address on Monday in the House of Commons, the spokesperson said that UK MPs “are independent of government; it is for individual members to decide who they meet and for what purpose.” India had wanted that the UK not allow this event to take place.

The High Commission spokesperson also said that it was UK’s long-standing position that “it is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political resolution to the situation in Kashmir, taking into account the Kashmiri people’s wishes.”

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