Two days before the arrival of the Swedish Royal couple, King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia, and senior Ministers, including Foreign Minister Anne Linde, Stockholm sent its strongest message on Jammu and Kashmir thus far, urging the Indian government to lift all restrictions placed in the former State, and calling for it to “involve” Kashmiris for a resolution of the issue.
The statement, made by Ms Linde in the Swedish Parliament on Thursday, came ahead of a week-long visit (December 1-6) by the Swedish delegation.
“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.
Sweden and the EU (European Union) 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,” said Ms Linde.
‘Aligned with EU’
Swedish Ambassador Klas Molin said that Stockholm was fully aligned with the European Union that has issued similar statements and held a special hearing on the situation in Kashmir in recent weeks.
“The Kashmir issue is a long-standing one. We see it as emanating from a bilateral dispute and thus has to be resolved through dialogue between India and Pakistan. That is the EU’s position. The other main tenet is that Kashmiris should have a say in their own future,” said Mr Molin.
The Swedish statement follows statements of concern by other visiting European leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto.
Darul Ihsan Media Desk