Lisa Forbes MP
Lisa Forbes MP

As an MP responsible for a diverse community, I regularly receive correspondence on international issues, writes MP for Peterborough Lisa Forbes in her weekly column.

One such issue is causing great anxiety and concern for many in our community right now. That issue relates to Jammu and Kashmir.

I have received a swelling number of letters from constituents expressing grave concerns over the unilateral move by the Indian government to remove Kashmir’s special status.

In what is essentially a move to impose direct rule on a once autonomous state, I am deeply concerned about the human rights abuses that have been documented and reported in the region.

There is real fear in the Kashmiri community in Peterborough about how they’ve been unable to contact their friends and relatives, meaning that they have no idea if they are safe or how they are feeling.

The draconian curfew measures imposed have massively limited communication, meaning that the voices of Kashmiri people aren’t being heard and they are unable to contact relatives at home and abroad.

The reality is that schools have been closed, access to food and medicine is limited and the security crackdown has an entire state living in fear of what is to come.

By revoking these constitutional protections, the Indian government has left the civic rights of millions of innocent people by the wayside.

It’s now imperative that international human rights observer groups, including the United Nations, are allowed into Kashmir. Moreover, I believe that the UK government must show leadership on this issue and lead calls for a UN Security Council resolution to stop the human rights breaches in Jammu and Kashmir, with an emphasis on the necessity for dialogue and a political solution between India and Pakistan.

It’s crucial for international democracy and peace in the region and between two nuclear powers, that a diplomatic solution is found immediately, which is why I have written to the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, to express my concerns and the concerns of the Kashmiri community in Peterborough, with whom I have been in consistent contact with during these escalating tensions.

Nobody should have to feel like a prisoner in their own home, or have their access to vital medicines or life-saving operations limited.

The government has a moral responsibility to call for human rights to be restored under international law, yet besides noting the seriousness of the crisis, they have done little to assist with diplomatic and political efforts to de-escalate tensions.

As a country, I believe it is vital that we stand up against injustices wherever they may happen.

As a government in waiting, that is what the Labour Party is committed to.

In a world where global leadership is lacking, we must be the voice of reason on the world stage and call for an end to human rights abuses while emphasising the need for dialogue and a political solution.

Those who are affected in Jammu and Kashmir, along with constituents in the city who are suffering great anxiety over the welfare and future of their loved ones, deserve nothing less.

This was first published in the Peterborough Telegraph.

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