Note of caution over draft Kashmir report
29 November 2006
Islamabad: Pakistan on Wednesday cautioned that the European Parliament’s draft report on Jammu and Kashmir, currently being debated by European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee in Brussels, must take into account the sentiments and struggle of the Kashmiri people. When Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam’s attention was drawn to the European Parliament’s (EP) report that brushes aside the demand for plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir, calling it “wholly out of step” and against the ‘interests’ of the people there, she said “This is an individual’s report which has been presented to the European Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee. In this context what is of importance and relevance will be the Kashmiri opinion.” The rapporteur of the report titled “Kashmir, present situation and future prospects” is British Member of EP Baroness Emma Nicholson who visited Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan and India in June this year. “Surely Kashmiri people from Azad Kashmir, the Indian-occupied Kashmir and Kashmiri Diaspora, especially in Europe, will have a lot to comment on the report and the human rights situation in the held- Kashmir,” Ms Aslam said when her comments were sought on the contents of the report. Responding to a question, she said “We can’t prejudge the result of debate and discussion in the committee which will need to take into consideration the sentiments and struggle of Kashmiris over the past six decades and the need to promote a settlement of the Kashmir dispute that is acceptable first and foremost to Kashmiris.” The Press Trust of India reported on Tuesday that EP’s report said “Continuing calls for a plebiscite on the final status of Jammu and Kashmir are wholly out of step with the needs of the local people and thus damaging to their interests.” According to the PTI, the foreign affairs committee is expected to adopt the report following a debate on amendment proposals on January 30 and the EP’s plenary session is expected to debate the report in March. Apparently the draft report advocates a bilateral solution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and underscores the need for the region, EU and the international community to support the current bilateral talks. Ms Nicholson who is the vice-chairperson of the EP’s Foreign Relations Committee was appointed by the European Parliament to write a report on a final solution to the Jammu and Kashmir problem. When Ms Nicholson visited Jammu and Kashmir on a fact-finding mission in June, she evoked criticism for interacting with only pro-India parties and not meeting separatist Kashmiri leaders, even the moderates among them.