ISLAMABAD - United Kingdom yesterday said it will not become a mediator between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir issue but advocated a peaceful solution to the dispute.

Visiting British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that Britain did not want to prescribe a solution or act as a mediator despite being concerned about the violence in held Kashmir.

Addressing a joint news conference with Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz after a meeting, Johnson also called for an end to violence in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The longstanding position of Britain is that it is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue taking into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people,” Johnson said.

He added: “Of course we are concerned about recent incidents on both sides of the Line of Control in Kashmir and we call for an end to the violence.”

When pressed to speak on held Kashmir, he said: “I would not be able to add more to what I have said. It is between Pakistan and India to decide and resolve the issue peacefully. We encourage dialogue between the two countries.”

Johnson, who is on a two-day visit to Pakistan, urged Pakistan and India to exercise restraint and maintain a dialogue.  He said the mutual sequestration of the Pakistan-India economies was holding back the region from becoming a boom zone.

His visit comes days after British Prime Minister Theresa May was in India earlier this month. She is expected to visit Pakistan next year.

“Look at this area, look at this incredible human potential of Pakistan and its neighbours and then imagine what a future could be like if this was sorted out,” he said.

Johnson said on both sides, there was a great economic, commercial potential with scope for penetration of goods services and capital. “What an incredible boom zoom this would be. That’s the objective … the mutual syncretism of economies,” he said.

Boris Johnson said he had a wonderful and long meeting with Sartaj Aziz and discussed security, trade and intellectual and cultural cooperation.

He emphasised on enhancing trade and commercial activities between Pakistan and the UK, adding that the two countries could have done a much better than the £2.5 billion of their bilateral trade.

“We have agreed to launch a programme of business engagement focusing not just on the Enhanced Strategic Dialogue but also on the opportunity of the celebration of Pakistan’s 70th anniversary next year,” he said.

Johnson said the UK would like to take the economic relations with Pakistan to a new level. He termed the Pak-UK relations of having “vital, historic and great importance”.

He said it was privilege to visit Pakistan for first time, “a country having close, deep and indivisible links with my country”.

He mentioned that two per cent of the population of the UK and some of his own immediate family members could trace their origin with Pakistan.

Sartaj Aziz said the two sides shared concern over the increased tension along the LoC and it was stressed for the need of dialogue and negotiations for the resolution of problem, “otherwise the issue could become more serious.”

He said the meeting with British Foreign Secretary focused on promoting trade, increasing investment and cultural cooperation, adding Pakistan and UK had been cooperating under the framework of Enhanced Strategic Dialogue since 2011.

He mentioned that during the ministerial review meeting held this May, the two sides agreed on three new roadmaps on investment, cultural education and security.

“Today, we agreed to intensify our efforts to a meaningful mutually beneficial progress especially focusing on trade and investment under this framework,” he said.

He appreciated UK’s assistance and support to Pakistan in key areas, particularly in education and health sectors.

He expressed confidence that under the leadership of British Prime Minister Theresa May, the Pak-UK bilateral relations would be enhanced for the benefit of the people of two countries.

Sartaj Aziz said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had extended invitation to Theresa May to visit Pakistan in 2017.

Johnson earlier met Sartaj Aziz at the Foreign Office to discuss bilateral ties. During the meeting, Johnson said he was excited to be in Pakistan and wanted to further consolidate the rock solid friendship between our two countries.

Later, addressing a news briefing, Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said Pakistan was forcefully raising the Indian belligerence on the LoC and gross human rights violations in Kashmir with important countries.

He said that Pakistan was deeply concerned over the Indian atrocities in Kashmir as well as its targeting of civilians on the LoC.

He said: “India is resorting to firing at the LoC in order to hide its atrocities in Kashmir which in fact has attracted the world attention. Civil society organisations in different countries have chalked out events to sensitise the people about the human rights violations in Kashmir.”

He said over 150 people had so far been killed by Indian troops in Kashmir. “Over one thousand have also been blinded either partially or completely there,” he added.

Responding to a question, the spokesman said Pakistan responded to the Indian firing but it remains endeavour of our troops not to target the civilians but only their posts.

To a question, he said the Indian agent Kulbushan Yadav had admitted the nefarious designs India harbours against Pakistan and China Pakistan Economic corridor project.

Zakaria said the British PM was expected to visit Pakistan next year and the visit was discussed in the Johnson-Aziz meeting.

 

 

UK calls for end to violence in Kashmir