December 2006 News

Emma Nicholson's Report On Kashmir; The Travesty Of Truth

7 December 2006
The News International

Islamabad: How lobbying works to undermine the interests of the other in international dynamics of politics can well be seen in the 'Draft Report' on Kashmir prepared by Baroness, Emma Nicholson, EU Rapporteur on Kashmir appointed by the European Union Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs. European Union is universally recognized as a group of nations, which has evolved into multi- cultural and pluralist regional block after it has realized the true democratic values to their core. Given the dynamism of EU nations, it is now an established fact that all decisions in EU are taken with full consensus where even marginal groups dominate when the matters of their rights surface in discussions. Nicholson's Report seems to have dismantled the ivory tower of the notions of authenticity and credibility established by vibrantly evolving history of European nations. Her 10-page long report with 44 points, containing 3611 words, goes contrary to the aspirations of Kashmiri people and replete with biases against Pakistan. It seems that she didn't go for collecting her data from original sources and put into words whatever was told to her by a group of retired officials of Indian Army (a popular belief about her report). It was natural to call the impartiality of the would-be report into question when the EU Rapporteur sought to visit only pro-Indian Kashmiris (who represent only a negligible minority) and evaded pro-liberation Kashmiri leadership (one that represents Kashmiris' overwhelming majority) for collecting data. The Report has criticized Pakistan-administered Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) as a region where there are enormous deficiencies in rule of law, literacy, healthcare and democratic structures. The facts go quite contrary to the above claim. There is complete calm and peace in AJK and there is no deployment of Pakistan's Armed Forces except a limited number on the Line of Control whereas some 700,000 Indian troops are deployed in Indian- Held Kashmir (IHK), most of them in cities, towns and other populated areas. And not a single day passes without reports of troops' human rights' violations, custodial killings, protests, sit-ins, strikes, illegal detentions or fake encounters. Deplorably, the report was unable to give any reference to the draconian laws that India has enforced in occupied Kashmir to suppress its people. These laws give full impunity to Indian troops for Kashmiris' genocide. In AJK, the literacy rate is around 60% as against IHK's 54%; so is the proportion of healthcare. AJK government has been allocating sizeable fiscal resources to improving and increasing such facilities in urban and rural areas. Before October 2005 earthquake, there was a great dichotomy in the economic and social conditions on both sides of Line of Control (LOC). If one were to be fortunate enough to get access to IHK, and later visit AJK would literally have stunned to see for oneself the obvious difference in ground situation, prevailing on both sides of LOC. While in IHK, people looked gloomy by the mad dance of death and destruction, unleashed by the Indian occupation forces. In AJK, the visitors used to get entranced by the blissful peace and tranquility among the populace of the liberated territory. The Repot says, 'Pakistan has consistently failed to fulfill its obligations to introduce meaningful and representative democratic structures in AJK'. Everyone knows that for decades, it has been a tradition with AJK people to independently elect their representatives for Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, which, later, elects AJK Prime Minister. President of AJK too is elected in a democratic manner. The ignorance of the Rapporteur becomes evident when the Report says that there is 'absence of Kashmiri representation in the Pakistan National Assembly'. How can Pakistan include any Kashmiri representation in its Parliament when it has recognized Jammu and Kashmir as a 'disputed territory' as per UN resolutions? AJK even has its own Supreme Court and Election Commission independently. Supreme Court of Pakistan and Election Commission of Pakistan do not have any jurisdiction over AJK. The Report describes the turnout in IHK local elections as 75%. Would that Nicholson had substantiated her report regarding this turnout. It would have been proper if she had bothered to go through international media reports regarding IHK elections or had asked the people of the occupied territory who would have told her the truth about IHK 'democracy' and how they are forced on gunpoint to cast their votes in favor of candidates of New Delhi's choice. Rigging, abduction of anti-establishment candidates and stealing of votes are the hallmark of such elections in IHK. And, it is because of this indignation that the people of Jammu and Kashmir totally boycott IHK periodical election dramas, particularly, after 1989. The EU Rapporteur was able to notice the provision in AJK election rules that for elections, one has to affirm one's loyalty towards Kashmir's accession to Pakistan but she failed, at the same time, to take cognizance of the fact that in IHK, one has to take oath before filing one's candidature and after election to state assembly that one would uphold the integrity and sovereignty of India over Jammu and Kashmir. The report recognizes the difficult living conditions the migrant Pundits of the Kashmir Valley and urges to empower them but altogether it has sought to neglect more than two million Kashmiri Muslim migrants living in AJK and Pakistan. This great discrimination and cruel injustice doesn't suit, at least, to Rapporteur of European Union. The Report has stated that Pakistan has not been sufficiently able to provide relief and rehabilitation to the people of tremor-hit areas of AJK whereas India did well with the coordinated help of state-administration, army and the civil society to rehabilitate its 30,000 displaced people. The above is a total fabrication of the facts about the rehabilitation of quake-hit people in IHK. The Report, while stating this, was unable to take into consideration the incomparable level of loss on both sides of LOC. It wasn't able also to state other facts regarding rehabilitation e.g. soon after the earthquake, India rejected the offers of international relief and the permission of relief agencies and media to visit IHK tremor-hit areas so that the world may not know the truth. On the other hand, Pakistan allowed each and every relief agency, media, international NGOs, foreign agencies to tremor-hit areas of AJK. Even NATO and American forces have been frequently busy in AJK relief operations. While, it discussed Pak-India peace process, the Report couldn't take the courage to appreciate Pakistan that went for ceasefire with India in late 2003. India only responded positively later. Moreover, it was Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf who initiated dialogue with the then-Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. It was again India, which tried to derail Pak-India peace process in the aftermath of Mumbai train blasts of July 2006. The Report's statement becomes a travesty of truth when it erroneously describes Pakistan as claiming the entire Jammu and Kashmir as its integral part. Conversely, Pakistan's principled stance, as it is, has been that Kashmir is a disputed territory as declared by UN resolutions. On the other hand, it is India whose constitution proclaims Jammu and Kashmir as its integral part. That also is evident by other standards that it is India that has always ignored UN resolutions. Despite UN resolutions on Kashmir, India showed stubbornness. Again, it was Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf who demonstrated prudence, realizing Kashmir dispute as political issue as well as humanitarian, and went out of the way to offer Pakistan's proposals of demilitarization, self-governance and joint-management but India is still reluctant to respond to them positively despite knowing that the future of millions of Kashmiri people could be associated with them. The EU Rapporteur took no cognizance of the above fact too. It was not mandated to EU Rapporteur to criticize Pakistan and its people for the issues, which are quite internal to Pakistan. Either the amendment in Hudood Laws is resisted by Pakistani parliament and people or favored by them; certainly, the matter should not be of any concern to EU Rapporteur. To further make the matter worse, the Report also expressed its concern over 'the difficult situation faced by homosexuals in Pakistan' (Absurd!) The Report suggests that problems over water were among the underlying causes of the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir. This assertion is totally wrong as all other issues like water and Siachin are only the offshoots of the core issue of Kashmir. The dispute on Kashmir still exists because India has constantly been denying Kashmiris' right to decide their future by themselves. This fact makes Nicholson's intentions doubtful that she evaded highlighting the basic issue of Kashmir. If she considers plebiscite 'out of step', it could genuinely be expected of her to propose some alternate solutions for the settlement of Kashmir dispute in accordance with Kashmiris' aspirations. Nicholson has also failed to take notice of an earlier report on Kashmir presented by EU Parliament's adhoc delegation in 2004, which was widely applauded by the people of Kashmir. It, instead, reflected Kashmiris' aspirations. It may be pertinent to note that while making the report public, the EU delegation head, John Cushnahan described Jammu and Kashmir as the most beautiful prison of the world. Given all the distorted facts of the report (as given above), it is now widely believed that the report is fundamentally flawed and contains many inaccuracies; therefore, it does not represent a true reflection of the current situation in Kashmir. Kashmiri liberation leaders in Indian-Held Kashmir, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan and Kashmiri diaspora all over the world have duly called the report into question and demanded European Union to replace Baroness Emma Nicholson with an impartial Rapporteur on Kashmir and prepare a new report, which may also give importance to Kashmiris' genuine representatives. The author is a freelance columnist and can be reached at usmaanghani@gmail.com

 

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