MIRPUR (AJK)

Elaborating the policy of Britain over the Kashmir issue, High Commissioner in Pakistan Philip Barton has said that his country wants that Pakistan and India should resolve all the conflicts including Kashmir issue in line with the aspirations of the people.

He was talking to journalists here on Wednesday before leaving for Islamabad on the conclusion of his visit to Mirpur. Flanked by Albert David, the head of consular operations in the British High Commission, and other officials, Mr Barton said that his country had very good friendly relations with both India and Pakistan. He added that his country wanted both the countries to resolve their outstanding disputes including the Jammu & Kashmir conflict through peaceful means.

Highlighting the objectives of his visit to Mirpur, the British envoy said that since Mirpur was the ancestral district of hundreds of thousands of British Kashmiris and the British authorities were determined to facilitate them with due assistance and cooperation with the assistance of the local authorities over the issues of routine social life.

He further said that due assistance would also be provided to the intending entrepreneurs from amongst the British Kashmiris seeking investments in the business sector in Azad Jammu & Kashmir. In this connection, he referred to his meeting with the AJKCCI officials during his visit over the investment opportunities in trade and industrial sectors in the twin districts of Mirpur and Bhimbher besides other parts of AJK.

The British envoy was apprised of the conducive atmosphere in AJK for the entrepreneurs for infusing investments into the trade and industrial sectors of AJK. To a question about the local people’s desire for a liberal visa regime for those seeking entry in UK, the British High Commissioner categorically declared that it was global visa policy of Britain which is being implemented for all the nations around the world without any discrimination.

To another question about discouraging of the issues and reported trend  of forced marriages among certain British Kashmiris, Barton said that under the prevalent British laws, the victims of the forced marriages would be furnished with due assistance and the authorities were determined to initiate legal action against the perpetrators with the assistance of local authorities.

Speaking at a luncheon hosted by AJK Prime Minister Abdul Majeed, the British high commissioner said that the bilateral ties between Pakistan and the United Kingdom were getting strengthened with the passage of time.

The prime minister also spoke on the occasion and welcomed the British high commissioner to Kashmir.

The British envoy was heading a delegation consisting of senior officials of the British High Commission in Pakistan including Head of Assistance Unit Albert David. Mr Barton continued that Mirpur was the first city, he visited since he took over the charge of the office of the British High Commission to Pakistan about four months ago. He lauded the role of the hundreds of thousands of UK-based Kashmir expatriates for their great services in different capacities including through political, non-political and official forums in the United Kingdom.

He said that since the Kashmiris having British nationality deserve assistance and services by the government, Britain will leave no stone unturned to do the job in line with its manifesto and prevalent rules and regulations to serve its masses including in resolution and coping with the social issues they were confronted with.

The high commissioner said that his country was committed to promote friendly linkage with Pakistan through exchange of bilateral cooperation and assistance in various mutual interests of public welfare and progress. AJK Chief Secretary Khizer Hayat Gondel, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Fayaz Abbasi, Mirpur University of Science & Technology Vice Chancellor Dr Habibur Rehman and Administrator Ghulam Rasool were also present.