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New UK PM Keir Starmer Shifts Labour Party’s Kashmir Stance

Restoring the Labour Party’s relations with India, which have been strained as a result of their comments on Kashmir, will be among Keir Starmer’s first tasks as prime minister of the United Kingdom. In the general elections, Starmer led the party to a resounding victory that signalled the end for Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party.

The Labour Party has faced criticism in the past for its stance on the Kashmir dispute. Their position has been diametrically opposed to the British government’s position, which maintains that Kashmir is an issue between India and Pakistan.

Under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, the party had in September 2019 passed an emergency motion calling for international observers to “enter” Kashmir and demand the right of self-determination for its people. It also called for Mr Corbyn to meet the high commissioners of both India and Pakistan to ensure there is “mediation” and restoration of peace and normality to prevent a potential nuclear conflict.

The resolution was slammed by India as an effort to “pander to vote-bank’s interest”.

Starmer, realising how important ties with the world’s fastest-growing economy are, set out on a mission to fix the missteps made by his party in the past. His manifesto included a commitment to pursue a “new strategic partnership” with India, emphasizing the trade agreement.

During meetings with the Indian diaspora and public addresses, Starmer affirmed that Kashmir is an internal issue and will be resolved by India and Pakistan.

“Any constitutional issues in India are a matter for the Indian Parliament, and Kashmir is a bilateral issue for India and Pakistan to resolve peacefully,” he said during a meeting with Labour Friends of India.

During his poll campaign, Starmer embarked on outreach efforts, denouncing Hinduphobia and celebrating cultural festivals like Diwali and Holi.

This policy adjustment aims to rebuild trust with the British-Indian community and foster stronger business ties with India, a critical aspect of Labour’s international agenda.

The Labour Party, out of power for over a decade, has also outlined a foreign policy of “progressive realism,” emphasizing pragmatic approaches to global challenges such as climate change and international security. Starmer’s manifesto includes plans for a new strategic partnership with India, focusing on trade agreements and cooperation in technology, security, education, and environmental issues.

Labour passed the magic number of 326 seats for a House of Commons majority just before 5 am on Friday, confirming a change of government that was predicted for months but is still a remarkable turnaround for Starmer’s party in a single electoral cycle. Starmer will now replace Sunak as prime minister on Friday, ending the Tories’ 14-year grip on power.

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