Conservative Diary

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Cameron's right about Kashmir

by Paul Goodman

No, he shouldn't have said that "as with so many of the world’s problems, we are responsible for the issue in the first place".  We're not responsible for many of the world's problems.  We're responsible for one of the world's main benefits, since so many countries have followed the Westminster Parliamentary model (or tried to), and our past's given us so much to be proud of.

But Cameron was right about Kashmir.  Again, we're not responsible for its present agonies: blame Indian army atrocities, Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and communalism for those.  The last was bound to be sparked giving either country rule over Kashmir in 1947: lots of Muslims and Hindus couldn't live peacefully together in one or the other, and the Government of the day can't be blamed for that.

However, the least bad option on the table would have been for Kashmir to join Pakistan, which is almost certainly the result a vote would have delivered.  But it's far too late for that now, which is the point the Prime Minister was driving at.  A current of opinion in Pakistan - and among British citizens of Pakistani origin here - holds that the Government should lead an international effort to put right the errors of the late 1940s.

It can't and shouldn't.  It can't, because we're no longer an imperial power.  It shouldn't, because we have more pressing matters abroad to worry about (let alone at home).  This doesn't mean that it should ignore Kashmir: as I've argued before, what happens there has an impact here, and it's important in its own right (given the regional nuclear armouries).  But we only have scope to work at the margins.

The Telegraph reports that Cameron "insisted that it was not his place to intervene in the dispute".  He was bang on the money about that at least.  He'll doubtless have been reminded about senior British politicians who weren't.


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