Three things depressed me about the debate
- It was poorly attended. Considering the fact that it dealt with a dispute between two nuclear-armed powers, that this was only the second debate on the subject in the last twenty years and that descendants of Kashmiri families form a considerable proportion of the Muslim population of the UK, it should have attracted more members;
- The quality was not great. The passion of most speakers, some of them infrequent and unpractised performers, militated against that and too many repeated the same litany of charges against India;
- There was no mention of the Commonwealth until the penultimate speech (by Jim Shannon, SDLP). There were many references to the United Nations, but nobody seemed to realise the significance of the fact that the UK, India and Pakistan are all members and recognise the Queen as head of the organisation.
Nobody could have been happy with minister Sharma's stonewalling in his response to the debate:
The long-standing position of the UK is that it can neither prescribe a solution to the situation in Kashmir nor act as a mediator. It is for the Governments of India and Pakistan to find a lasting resolution, taking into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people. In our discussions with both India and Pakistan, we encourage both sides to maintain positive dialogue, but the pace and scope of that dialogue is for them to determine.
Waiting in the wings is China.