Two days ahead of the Swedish Royal couple, King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia’s, visit to India, accompanied by senior ministers, including Foreign Minister Anne Linde, Stockholm has communicated its condemnation on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir in a strongly-worded statement.
Urging the Narendra Modi-led Indian government to lift all restrictions placed on the people in the occupied Himalayan territory, the Swedish government has called for involving Kashmiris in resolving the longstanding dispute.
Swedish Foreign Minister Anne Linde made this statement in the Swedish Riksdag (parliament) in response to a question on the ongoing developments in the occupied territory ahead of the week-long Royal visit of the Swedish delegation, scheduled for December 1-6.
During this visit, Sweden will engage in discussions on defence cooperation, clean technologies, trade, tackling air pollution and holding the first “innovative council” dialogue with New Delhi.
Respect for Human Rights
Addressing the Swedish parliament, Foreign Minister Anne Linde said, “We emphasize 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.”
The statement notes that the ongoing situation in occupied Kashmir is “worrying” and must be resolved as per the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. Earlier on September 13, the Swedish parliament issued a statement to express its concern over the erupting crisis after the Modi-led Indian government abrogated Article 370, which granted partial autonomy to the occupied Himalayan territory.
Discussing Sweden’s position with regards to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir, Ambassador Klas Molin observed that Stockholm was “fully aligned with the European Union” and even held a special hearing on the situation in Kashmir recently.
Speaking to Indian newspaper, the Hindu, Molin said, “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.”
Ambassador Molin observed that the Kashmir issue could be a subject of the bilateral discussion between Swedish Foreign Minister Anne Linde and Indian External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, however, he said that King Gustaf is unlikely to make any “political” remarks.
Aside from Sweden, many other European leaders have expressed concern over the ongoing situation in the occupied territory, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto.