Indian daily The Times of India has quoted a British diplomatic source in London as saying the UK government views Kashmir as a bilateral issue that India and Pakistan have to resolve.
“I can confirm we did not take sides in the debate and did not side with China against India. As you know, our longstanding position is that it is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political solution on Kashmir. China called for the meeting. We had no involvement in calling for it. China wanted to say that unilateral action by India to revoke Article 370 was destabilising", the British diplomatic source said.
Since the UNSC meeting was informal in nature, it was decided there would be no formal statement or further action announced.
“This is the first time in 50 or 60 years that the UNSC has talked about Kashmir. The UK has always been of the view that Kashmir is a matter for Pakistan and India to resolve", the diplomatic source reiterated.
Several Indian journalists took to social media to allege the UK had supported China’s demand to criticise India for revoking the special status of Kashmir under the Indian Constitution’s Article 370. They also claimed the US and France supported India at the UNSC meeting.
The British diplomatic source, however, rejected this charge on Monday, saying “…there was no agreed position [on Kashmir], so no statement to draft. It was just a debate".
France and the US also took a “similar neutral position”, he added.
On 5 August, India revoked Articles 370 and 35 A of the country’s Constitution, which granted special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The state was also divided into two federally administered territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, a move India claimed would give impetus to the region’s development.
Jammu and Kashmir was thereafter locked down as a precautionary measure between 5 and 18 August. The region’s administration has since announced a phased relaxation of restrictions on public movement and communication networks. These include restoring 17 out of approximately 100 landline telephone exchanges in the Kashmir Valley, restoring mobile connectivity in most areas of the region and the phased opening of educational institutions.
The decision to revoke the two articles was vehemently opposed by political parties in the region and several opposition parties.
Pakistan, which claims to be a stakeholder in Kashmir, also raised objections and mounted a diplomatic offensive against India’s decision.
Kashmir has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan since the countries gained freedom from British colonial rule in 1947. Both govern part of the region but claim it in full. They also fought two wars over Kashmir.