440 changes proposed in report on Kashmir
12 January 2007
London: A record number of 440 amendments have been moved in the Baroness Emma Nicholson’s report on Kashmir which she had prepared on behalf of the European Union Foreign Affairs Committee. According to the diplomatic sources, the amendments will be debated on January 24 and 25 in Brussels and the report will be subsequently put to vote on January 30. The UK Kashmir Diaspora is said to have mobilised decisive opinion against the report which the Kashmiri community has already rejected saying it went against their aspirations, wishes and the right to self-determination. The European Parliament comprise 732 members from 27 countries of which Germany has the highest representation of 99 followed that by UK with 78. The Foreign Affairs Committee of EU is composed of 78 members. Some of the amendments proposed by MEP Sajjad Karim want that the report should reaffirm that, under Article 1.1 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, all people have an inalienable right of self-determination, to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. It should also reaffirms that under Article 1.2, all parties to the Covenant promote the realisation of the right of self-determination and respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and urge India and Pakistan to find a durable settlement for Jammu and Kashmir, taking into account the wishes of all the people of Kashmir. Mr Karim also drew attention to the fact that ordinary Kashmiris by virtue of their struggle for self-determination and the humanitarian situation after the earthquake are now becoming intimately involved in the modalities of the peace process, through the exchanges taking place and the free movement across the Line of Control. His amendment also sought to deplore numerous documented human rights violations by Indian Army and paramilitary forces, widespread extrajudicial execution confirmed by Indian Police and Army officials who reported to the Human Rights Watch that alleged militants taken into custody are often executed instead of being brought to trial and subsequently recorded as ‘encounter killings’. The amendment sought to condemn extraordinary powers that permits use of lethal force, under the authority of such laws as the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Act and Armed Forces Special Powers Act which even the Indian Army admits have led to ‘mistakes’ resulting in the deaths of innocent people. Richard Howitt, Labour MEP, in his proposed amendments emphasised that the ceasefire had enabled India and Pakistan to engage in an ongoing dialogue on Jammu and Kashmir which is now starting to be modestly successful, and a number of confidence building measures (CMBs) are being implemented as part of the peace process.