Pakistan must vacate 'Occupied' Kashmir: UK MP

17 February 2016

A British lawmaker has said the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, including parts "illegally controlled" by Pakistan, are integral part of India and that Pakistan must vacate the territory and return it to India under a negotiated settlement of the dispute.

"State of Jammu and Kashmir in totality is part of India an integral part of India and it needs to be reunited and should come under the dominion of India," member of the UK parliament and leader of ruling conservative party Robert John Blackman told reporters in Jammu during a meet the press function organised by the Press Club of Jammu.

"The erstwhile ruler of Jammu and Kashmir had signed instrument of accession with India and given the control of the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir to India. It is Pakistan which illegally occupied its territory which it should hand back to India through negotiation," he said.

Also, Blackman said, war is no solution for any dispute between the two countries as both are nuclear powers. The best option is for Pakistan to vacate the territory forcibly occupied and hand it over to India, he added.

Drumming up support to his Conservative Party, the lawmaker from the Harrow East constituency in England said that things have changed for the Pakistan lobby in the UK parliament with "friends of India" like him speaking up for India.

He said there has been a strengthening of bonds between India and the UK since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over the reins of power in India and his last year's "historic visit" to UK has further strengthened that bond.

He also praised Modi's vision to develop India as an economic and military power of the east and United Kingdom was ready to provide all possible support to India for attaining that goal.

India, he said, has for long been a victim of terrorism originating from Pakistani soil and it is up to Pakistan to mitigate the situation by reining in the "forces" that spread terrorism.

He said the UK government is fully aware of the terrorism being faced by India and it stands shoulder to shoulder with India to combat terrorism. However, he said, he cannot speak on behalf of the UK government.

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