Houses of Parliament, London (File photo)
LONDON: A new parliamentary group focused on the Indo-Pacific has been set up to supply an overall perspective of the region to British parliamentarians and promote a better understanding in the UK parliament of the region’s issues to drive more cooperation between like-minded democracies.
The objectives of the APPG (all-party parliamentary group) Indo-Pacific, made up of Labour and Conservative MPs and peers, include to raise awareness of cross-border infiltration, terrorist training camps, the impact on communities living in border areas, the treatment of minority communities, the radicalisation of youth and religious indoctrination, and the impact globally and on communities in the region.
The APPG will promote closer cooperation between the UK and India on the fight against terrorism, and on security and trade.
The announcement comes at a time of closer UK defence and security cooperation in the region. The UK’s Carrier Strike Group is in the region and on Thursday the UK formally became Asean’s first new dialogue partner since 1966. In March in its Integrated Review the UK realigned its foreign policy to “tilt” towards the Indo-Pacific.
“The APPG Indo-Pacific provides a unique platform to raise the pitch on the subcontinental security paradigm in the UK parliament. There is a general lacuna in information and understanding on issues related to terrorism and the geopolitics of the region here in the UK,” said Lord Rami Ranger, vice-chair of the APPG.
“The focus of this APPG will be on the security paradigm in the Indo-Pacific and will include matters relating to geopolitics, radicalisation, secessionism, separatism and terrorism in the subcontinent and its impact globally and specifically in the UK,” said Bob Blackman, the APPG’s chair. “The Indo-Pacific is fast emerging as one of the most vital regions in the post-Brexit, post-pandemic international order. It holds the key to the future of global trade,” he said.
“In the last few years we have seen serious escalation in the security situation with ongoing tensions with Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir, Chinese aggression in Ladakh, continued impact of sponsored cross-border terrorism and radicalisation in the Kashmir Valley and support to other secessionist elements,” Blackman said. “I hope to counter false propaganda on the region and keep political parties honest to information on the region and drive more cooperation between like-minded democracies on security issues,” Blackman added.
“This APPG will provide the opportunity to highlight the success seen in India over recent years in improving living standards and delivering greater prosperity,” said vice-chair Theresa Villiers.
The APPG will promote cross-party visits to the region, dialogue with representatives from the region, cross-community dialogues for the region and engagement with diaspora communities in the UK.
APPGs are not official parliamentary bodies. The APPG Indo-Pacific will appear on the new edition of the register of APPGs, the authoritative list of such groups, on around August 25.