Pakistan-backed Kashmiri separatists based in the UK organized a virtual conference which was mostly attended by anti-India Labour politicians.
The online seminar was organized by the Jammu and Kashmir Self Determination Movement International (JKSDMI), led by Chairman Raja Najabat Hussain.
Among the speakers, was Debbie Abrahams, who is a member or Parliament from Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency. She shares a close rapport with the Pakistan-backed Raja Najabat Hussain.
Her Indian visa was rejected by the Indian authorities in February this year. Abrahams chairs a UK parliamentary group focused on Kashmir, and has been a critic of the Narendra Modi government’s move to scrap Article 370 that granted special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Debbie’s profile raised a red flag in India, as authorities had reasons to believe that she has links with individuals and outfits working for Pakistan’s spy agency, ISI, to run anti-India propaganda. Following her deportation from New Delhi, she visited Pakistan, where she was treated like a state guest.
Fawad Hussain Chaudhary, Pakistan’s Science and Technology minister, was one of the speakers in attendance too. The speakers present in the conference included twenty Labour Party politicians and Members of Parliament, however, only six Conservative politicians were invited to the conference.
The Labour Party politicians who attended the conference included Yasmin Qureshi, Pakistan born Labour MP for Bolton South East, Afzal Khan, Pakistan-born MP for Manchester Gorton, and Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Britain’s first Sikh MP.
Dhesi has always maintained a pro-Pakistani stance on Kashmir, even as his community members have been victims of Pakistan’s cross-border terrorism.
During the December 2019 elections, the Labour Party received unconditional support from Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) UK. JKLF, a terror group banned in India, was one of the first groups that launched Pakistan-backed terrorism in Kashmir in late 1980s, targeting ethnic minority of Kashmiri Pandits and other civilians.
In September 2019, Labour Party passed an emergency motion on Kashmir calling for party leader Jeremy Corbyn to seek international observers to ‘enter’ the region and demanded the right of self-determination for its people.
Following this, British-Indian bodies accused Corbyn of bringing an India-Pakistan bilateral affair into the domestic politics of the UK by adopting a ‘divisive’ emergency motion that calls for international intervention in the region. But there has been a change in Labour’s stance now.
The Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer has repositioned his party’s line on the issue of Kashmir after his meeting with the executive team of Labour Friends of India (LFIN) earlier in May 2020.
Starmer said, “We must not allow issues of the sub-continent to divide communities here. Any constitutional issues in India are a matter for the Indian Parliament, and Kashmir is a bilateral issue for India and Pakistan to resolve peacefully,” altering the position taken by his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn.