January 2007 News

EU draft report on Kashmir critical of Pakistan

15 January 2007
Indo-Asian News Service
Sujoy Dhar

New Delhi: Pakistan has sought about 400 amendments in a European Union (EU) draft report on Kashmir that severely criticises Islamabad for failing to bring democratic structures to Pakistan-administered Kashmir and the absence of basic rights of people there, particularly women.'Pakistan and Kashmiri groups backed by that country sought more than 400 amendments in the mere 10-page EU draft report on Kashmir as the deadline to receive amendments came to an end on Wednesday (Jan 10),' according to a reliable source with access to the draft.'With this ended Pakistan's covert and overt high profile campaign seeking amendments or rather a drive against those who were responsible for producing this report, which include EU Rapporteur Baroness Nicholson and many others MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) of EU who have been associated with the draft report on Kashmir,' said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity.The EU draft, a copy of which is available with IANS, points out the misery of the people in Jammu and Kashmir, in particular what Pakistan calls Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). It dwells on the people's suffering due to 'extreme poverty and neglect, with enormous deficiencies in basic literacy and numeracy, access to healthcare, lack of democratic structures and major deficiencies in the rule of law and justice; and whereas the whole of Jammu and Kashmir suffers from exceptional economic decline'.The EU report, which highlights the post-earthquake situation, says Pakistan has consistently failed to fulfil its obligations to introduce meaningful and representative democratic structures in AJK and notes in particular the continuing absence of Kashmiri representation in the Pakistan National Assembly.'The EU was flooded with requests for amendments (one news report leaked by Majid Tramboo puts the figure of amendments at 452). A vast majority of the amendments received are from Pakistan-backed Kashmiri groups,' the source claimed.The News of Pakistan quoted Barrister Majid Trambo, chair and executive director of ICHR Kashmir Centre, EU, as saying from Brussels: 'Earlier there were questions raised as to why nothing had been heard from the Kashmir Centre when everyone else in Europe, mostly friends of Kashmir, had been voicing their opinion. Well, let me tell you that all of us here at the Kashmir Centre have been very, very busy lobbying for the last six weeks with all the members of the European Parliament who belong to different political groups in pointing out the unfairness of the Emma Nicholson draft report on Kashmir. We have been trying extensively to alter or amend this unfair draft.'According to an Indian government source, these groups claiming to espouse the cause of the ordinary Kashmiri people are mostly the affluent groups who are settled in Europe and are heavily funded by Islamabad.'A well-known Kashmiri (who was sidelined by Majid Tramboo in the campaign for amendment in the draft report) remarked to an Indian diplomat that most of these guys, who are supposedly championing the cause of Kashmiris from the cosy confines of their homes abroad, don't want the Kashmir issue to be resolved. Because, if that happens, the large inflow of funds from Islamabad to these Pakistan-backed Kashmiris will dry up and these people who are solely surviving on the crumbs thrown at them by Pakistan through the dreaded ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) will become paupers overnight,' the source said.The EU report on Kashmir triggered an immediate response from Pakistan, which set up a high-profile team to tackle the situation.The EU report came against the backdrop of two recent HRW (Human Rights Watch) reports on Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Jammu and Kashmir, criticising the human rights violations by Pakistan-backed militants and highlighted Pakistan's role in providing training and other infrastructure support to these militants.'The EU deeply regrets that the lack of a national political will to address basic needs, provision, political participation and the rule of law in AJK has left women there in a desperate situation following the earthquake,' the draft report notes.'The EU highlights the recent threats aimed at derailing planned amendments to the rape laws and the repugnant Hudood Ordinances themselves which, despite the will of President Pervez Musharraf, have recently been reconfirmed by a national parliament in which neither the women nor the men of AJK have any representation.'It also touched upon the difficult situation faced by homosexuals in AJK. 'Pakistan feared that if these reports are not contained, others of similar nature might follow. The job of lobbying to seek amendments in the EU draft report was handed over to ISI,' the source said.'The academic work on the same was done at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISS). ISS made a draft report ready which listed down the portions of the report which according to them should be deleted and drafted with fresh wordings which they would seek to be inserted.'ISS is known to closely work with ISI. It's the same institute (ISS) whose 'attractive woman academic' developed inappropriate relationship with Britain's military attaché, Brigadier Andrew Durcan, at the behest of ISI. The brigadier was later recalled by the UK which was deeply embarrassed by the incident,' the source said.Majid Tramboo, who headed the Brussels-based ICHR Kashmir Centre, was assigned the task of lobbying by Pakistan, the source said.'Tramboo was directed to report to the ISI operatives posted in Pakistani missions in Brussels as well as London. They were clearly briefed that access to funds will not be a problem in their efforts to seek amendments,' the source said.Indian diplomats in Europe point out that Pakistani embassies in all major countries also seemed to have been briefed at their respective ends to lobby as much as possible in seeking amendments.'EU diplomats are highly impressed with the low key Indian response to the EU draft report on Kashmir in stark contrast to Pakistan's high profile campaign against them for coming out with what Islamabad perceived as an anti- Pakistan report,' the source said.


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