Kashmir Situation Worrying, Restrictions must be Lifted: Sweden

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Srinagar: Security personnel stand guard on the streets of Srinagar as authorities clamped curfew in all the 10 districts of Kashmir valley fearing large scale violence after Friday prayers on July 15, 2016. To prevent the spread of passion-stoking rumours and posts on social media by anti-social elements, authorities have suspended all internet and mobile phone connectivity in the Valley. (Photo: IANS)

Caravan News

NEW DELHI – Ahead of Swedish King’s visit to India, Sweden’s foreign minister Anne Linde has issued a strong statement on Kashmir saying that the situation there is worrying and the remaining restrictions must be lifted.

It is the 115th of the abrogation of certain provisions in Article 370 and changing the status of Kashmir when Sweden has come out strongly against the continued restrictions and political detentions in the Valley.

In a response to a question on the situation in Kashmir in the Swedish parliament, Sweden’s foreign minister Linde called for lifting of the remaining restriction in the region even as she emphasised upon bilateral “political solution” between India and Pakistan.

“We emphasise the importance of respect for human rights, that an escalation of the situation in Kashmir is avoided and that a long-term political solution to the situation must involve Kashmir’s inhabitants. Dialogue between India and Pakistan is crucial,” Anne Linde told the Riksdag or parliament on Wednesday.

The response was to a question raised by MP Hakan Svenneling if the foreign minister intended to take any initiatives due to the escalated situation in Kashmir.

Anne Linde responded by saying, “The situation in Kashmir is worrying and the government is closely following developments. Sweden and the European Union (EU) have had direct contacts with both India and Pakistan on this issue. Together with the EU, Sweden is closely following the changes that have taken place in Jammu and Kashmir’s constitutional status and notes information that has emerged about how the development affects the situation for human rights.”

The foreign minister of Sweden will be part of the delegation accompanying King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden on a state visit to India during December 1-6, 2019.

Sweden is among many European nations that have raised concerns regarding the situation in Kashmir. Earlier this month, German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her visit to Delhi had termed the restrictions as “not sustainable”.

Urging the Modi administration to lift “remaining restrictions” she said, “Sweden and the EU urge the Indian government to lift the remaining restrictions imposed on Jammu and Kashmir. It is crucial that free movement and communication opportunities are restored.”

Government of India is yet to respond to the statements made in the Swedish parliament.

Sweden is part of the UN observation force United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), which has been monitoring the ceasefire between India and Pakistan since 1949.

Sweden currently contributes to five of about 40 military observers.

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