Indian-origin Labour MP Keith Vaz demands party rescind Kashmir resolution

Indian-origin Member of Parliament Keith Vaz has demanded the Labour Party rescind an emergency resolution passed calling for international intervention in Kashmir.

Vaz said the resolution had created
Vaz said the resolution had created "distress and division". Photo courtesy: Wikimedia

Keith Vaz, the Labour MP for Leicester East, said the motion – which has caused an uproar among members of the Indian Diaspora in the United Kingdom – had created "unnecessary distress and division within the Party and the country".

The resolution was passed on September 26 at the party's annual conference in Brighton and calls for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to organise the entry of international observers into the region and demand the right of self-determination for its people.

The motion was a response to the decision by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to create a Union Territory of Kashmir and withdraw its special status under Article 370. The British government's official stance on Kashmir is that it remains an issue between India and Pakistan.

The Labour resolution states that the decision has created a "major humanitarian crisis" in the disputed region.

However, Vaz said the resolution had created "distress and division".

In a statement, the MP said, "People have strongly-held views on Kashmir. Although many have settled in the UK, they have friends, family and emotional links to the region. It would be wrong to allow this matter to distract from the amazing relationships they share in the towns and cities all over Britain."

"Issues of sovereignty are a matter for the Indian Government; border issues are matters for the Governments of India and Pakistan. This is a political and not a religious issue. Third-party involvement from countries, especially a former colonial power that originally caused this problem, are unhelpful and unwise," the MP said. 

"I have therefore written to the Chair of the NEC, Andi Fox, and to the Leader of the Party, Jeremy Corbyn, asking them to recall the motion and hold a proper debate at the NEC to adopt a common Party position that does not divide our communities," Vaz added.

Vaz also condemned the attacks on the "staff, visitors and building of the Indian High Commission in London" perpetrated by Pakistani and Khalistani supporters near the Indian Embassy in Central London on August 15.

"We live in a Parliamentary democracy and so there is freedom of expression, but this provides no excuse for damage to the sovereign territory of another country. These attacks must cease," Vaz said.