Last week saw India taking a batch of 24 foreign envoys to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and conspicuous by the absence was British High Commissioner Alexander Ellis. Of the 24 envoys, the largest group of 9 envoys were from Europe. These were EU, Finland, France, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden.

India was keen on the British High Commission to also be part of the visit. While the UK did not participate, they were aware of the visit being organized by the Indian govt. It is understood that the UK mission in Delhi is closely working with authorities to find the best opportunity for UK high commission to visit the union territory soon.

This comes even as within the UK a number of voices have been keen on developments in Jammu and Kashmir. A visit by British HC could have been better for the situation on the ground in the backdrop of recent district development council elections, resumption of 4G internet.   

January saw a discussion on Kashmir in the British Parliament, with Minister for Asia Nigel Adams stating that it is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. 

He said, “We continue to believe that it is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political resolution to the situation”. On the removal of special status, he pointed, “There have been recent elections to the District Development Council… the first to take place since the revocation of article 370” and welcomed the relaxation of restrictions.

Interestingly, the British High commissioner to Pakistan has visited, Altit fort in Hunza valley in Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan occupied Kashmir, in October of last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

His key focus was boosting tourism in the area, but also, awarding Scottish scholarship to women in Gilgit.

Last week’s visit was the third such visit organized by the ministry of external affairs in last more than one year to the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The first two visits happened in January and February of 2020. 

The visits are aimed to showcase the ground situation after India removed the special status for the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

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