HC Deb 23 April 1996 vol 276 cc191-2
Q1. Mr. Madden

To ask the Prime Minister when he intends next to meet the Prime Minister of India to discuss Kashmir. [24659]

The Prime Minister (Mr. John Major)

I have no plans at present to meet the Indian Prime Minister. I look forward to an early opportunity to do so following the Indian elections, which begin later this month.

Mr. Madden

Does the Prime Minister share the growing international view that the conflict over Kashmir presents the gravest threat to international peace today, given that India and Pakistan have gone to war over Kashmir previously, and that both countries now have a nuclear capability? Against that background, will the Prime Minister and Her Majesty's Government do everything possible to persuade the next Government of India to enter into serious and urgent negotiations with the Government of Pakistan on the basis of UN resolutions, to find an acceptable settlement on the basis of the right of the people of Kashmir to decide their own future?

The Prime Minister

That is an important matter, as the hon. Gentleman says. We are in touch with our friends and colleagues in India and in Pakistan. We have said consistently to those friends and colleagues that we are prepared to help in the search for a solution, either at the UN or in any other forum, provided that the parties concerned wish us to do so. That remains our position, but there must be simultaneous progress on several fronts—first, self-evidently, bilateral dialogue; secondly, the development of a genuine political process in Kashmir, with an improvement in the human rights position there; and, thirdly, a clear cessation of external support for militants, which has poisoned the atmosphere in Kashmir for far too long.

Mr. Whitney

Does my right hon. Friend agree that recent developments in Kashmir have caused many UK citizens of Kashmiri origin much anxiety? His statement that the British Government will continue to press for a stable democratic solution of the Kashmir problem will therefore be most welcome.

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, and I know from my experience that what he says about citizens here in the United Kingdom is true. Our policy is to advocate the development of a genuine political process in Kashmir.

Forward to