27th May 2002
The Muslim Council of Britain today expressed their support for Foreign Secretary Jack Straw’s trip to India and Pakistan.
“We hope that our government will urge both countries to do everything within their power to reduce military tensions in the subcontinent and also affirm that the only real solution for the long-running Kashmir conflict is to honour the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir about their future through a free and impartial plebiscite,” said Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary General of the MCB.
In this regard, the MCB stressed the long ignored but central fact that the plebiscite had been promised by Lord Mountbatten and Prime Minister Nehru themselves and this was later incorporated into UN resolutions and UN Secretary General even appointed Admiral Chester Nimitz as Plebiscite Administrator. Not only India and Pakistan but the entire international community are parties to this decision.
Sadly however, the history thereafter is a history of going back on the solemn pledge given by India, followed by two Indo-Pakistan wars with a third one threatening a nuclear holocaust. Being the head of the Commonwealth and a permanent member, Britain has a singular moral and political responsibility to make sure that like East Timor, the people of Jammu and Kashmir too are able to self-determine their own future through the promised free and impartial plebiscite, which should have been held half a century ago. One doubts there can be any other just and peaceful solution to the conflict.
Meanwhile the MCB has also appealed to members of the British South Asian communities not to import the tensions caused by the situation into their own midst. They can play a constructive role by pursuing a peaceful and political path to their respective points of view.