Nation special report
LONDON: Pakistan High Commissioner, Mohammad Nafees Zakaria, took the advantage of Labour Party’s annual conference to highlight the Kashmir issue and the economic benefits through investment in Pakistan.
Speaking at the ‘Fringe Event’ organized by the Pakistan High Commission at the Labour Party Annual Conference at Brighton on 24 September, he said that Pakistan is a land of millions of economic opportunities and the UK and Pakistan could both benefit through utilization of available resources and expertise of the two countries.
He requested the British Government and parliamentarians to exercise their influence and pressurise the Indian Government to stop human rights violations. “If they keep silence over this criminal act, they would regret since it is high time to save 8 million innocent and oppressed Kashmiri people who are suffering at the hands of nine hundred thousand Indian forces”, he stated.
The High Commissioner said Pakistan-UK relations enjoy strong political goodwill, coupled with the presence of 1.5 million affluent and resourceful Pakistani Diaspora that serves as a solid foundation for mutually beneficial relations in diverse fields of society and economy. He said that the strong goodwill that exists at all levels between the two countries needs to be translated in equally strong economic ties.
Giving an overview of the investment and trade opportunities in Pakistan, the High Commissioner said the country is rapidly gaining investors’ attention as the security challenge has been successfully overcome and infrastructure has significantly improved. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan is leading the economic reforms to facilitate investors and to ensure ease of doing business. He shared with the audience a list of projects ready for investment and doing business. He particularly invited UK’s Fintech and IT companies to benefit from Pakistan’s trained human resource and exploit the potential to the mutual advantage.
He particularly mentioned Kashmir in his speech and expressed deep concern over what he termed the humanitarian crisis resulting from continuous siege of millions of ‘defenseless’ Kashmiris by the Indian forces which has created food and medicine shortages in the region causing extreme sufferings and deaths.
He said human rights of the Kashmiri people were being violated for decades. These are crimes against humanity well documented by reputable international organisations like UNOHCHR, HRW, Amnesty International, International People’s Tribunal and others, the High Commissioner underscored.
Mr Zakaria invited attention of the audience towards ‘mass graves’ in Kashmir and enforced disappearance and fake encounters related to it, deliberate mass blinding of youth with pellet guns, and rape of Kashmiri women as an instrument of war by Indian occupation forces. He hoped that the UK would play its due role in addressing the humanitarian crisis in Kashmir. He emphasized delivery of justice to the Kashmiri victims of Indian atrocities and holding the perpetrators accountable.
A number of MPs, MEPs and Labour Party Leaders spoke on the occasion. They flayed the human rights violations and the humanitarian crisis in Kashmir and urged India to restore the fundamental human rights of the Kashmiri people immediately by lifting the siege. They also reaffirmed their Party’s commitment with the oppressed Kashmiri people in their struggle for self-determination. The Parliamentarians emphasized on peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN resolutions.
They were including Khalid Mahmood, Yasmin Qureshi, M. Afzal Khan, Naz Shah, Shabana Mahmood and Stephen Timms,
Liz McInnis MP (Shadow Minister for South Asia), Julie Hilling ex-MP, Members of European Parliament including Richard Corbett (Co Chair Friends of Kashmir in the European Parliament) and others attended the event and majority of them spoke and assured their support to Kashmiri people. They also promised to move resolution in both parliaments as soon as they get a chance to highlight the Kashmir dispute.
Other speakers were including Raja Najabat Hussain (Chairman JKSDMI), Yasmin Dar (Chairperson, JKSDMI-UK), Mohammed Azam (Secretary General JKSDMI), Muazam Ali and Rabia from Pakistan High Commission London.
Earlier, Nafees Zakaria had an interaction with Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn MP at the Conference and briefly exchanged views on matters of mutual interest and concern. Mr. Zakaria thanked for his Party’s support to the Kashmiri people on humanitarian grounds. Mr. Corbyn welcomed the High Commissioner to the Conference.
The High Commissioner also separately met Parliamentarians and Councillors and exchanged views on issues of common interest, including the grave human rights situation in Kashmir.
The venue of the event was adorned with the colours of Pakistan, promoting tourism, trade, handicrafts and other sectors of economy. A special section was dedicated to the photographs depicting the human rights abuses in Kashmir which was keenly visited by the delegates of the Conference. The High Commissioner thanked all those who helped put together the event and participated in it.