Members of Indian descent at the House of Lords have urged Britain to show greater “sensitivity” to India's concerns over cross-border terrorism and be more supportive of its efforts to fight it.
Raising the issue in the House, Labour peer Bhikhu Parekh alleged that though India has been a victim of cross-border terrorism for years and repeatedly complained about it, Britain “did not take it seriously until it began to affect us at home”
“Even now we have not shown sufficient sensitivity to India's deepest concerns...We in Britain could give India greater active support and enable it to sustain its open and democratic society,” Lord Parekh said.
He added: “I am not suggesting, even for a moment, that India's policy on, say Kashmir, is right. Like many in your Lordships' House, and many in India itself, I have been greatly critical of it, and I wish that it had been different. However, that cannot justify the horrendous acts of terrorism that we have seen in Delhi, Mumbai and other parts of India.”
Lord Parekh, a leading academic and author of a seminal report on race relations in Britain, was speaking on a short debate on India-British relations initiated by him.
He called for Britain to “expedite” India's bid for the permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council by moving a resolution in the General Assembly.
With more than one billion people, India represented a “distinct voice in the global conversation” and its claim to a seat on the top table was “perhaps weightier than our own [Britain's] or that of France,” he said.
“It is only a matter of time before India's claim is met since about 120 members of the General Assembly have indicated their consent. We can expedite this and earn ourselves goodwill by, for example, moving a resolution in the General Assembly on our own or with France, as we did in the case of Libya and as we have done in other cases,” Lord Parekh added.
The suggestion was supported by Liberal Democrat peer Raj Loomba, who suggested that Britain could work with other countries to “ensure that India has its legitimate place on the Security Council”
Lord Parekh criticised the Conservative government's move to restrict “post-study work visas” that currently allow overseas students to work for two years after completing their studies.
“This allows them to recoup part of their expenses and contribute their skills to the country. It benefits both sides,” he said, describing the proposed restrictions “very rigid.”