Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

EU report on Kashmir criticises Pakistan

The Press Trust of India - 25 May 2007

The European Parliament today adopted a report on Kashmir, criticising Pakistan for its lack of progress on democracy and human rights and commending India as the largest secular democracy.

On Pakistan, the report placed by Baroness Emma Nicholson voiced concerns over fundamental freedoms and in particular the rights of women, children and minorities.

It is also concerned at report of torture, mistreatment, discrimination and corruption in Pakistani-Occupied Kashmir.

The report noted that "India is the world's largest secular democracy and has devolved democratic structures at all levels" while "Pakistan still lacks full implementation of democracy in Pak-Occupied Kashmir, and has yet to take steps towards democracy in Gilgit and Baltistan.

"...Resolution of the continuing conflict along the LoC can best be achieved jointly by a constant engagement between the governments of India and Pakistan, involving the peoples of all parts of the former princely state," the report said.

It commended both countries on the peace moves underway and welcomed the restoration of bilateral talks.

The Nicholoson report reaffirmed that "all people have the inalienable right of self-determination," while pointing to the fact that "the pre-conditions for invoking the plebiscite have not been met at present."

Several members raised the possibility of Kashmir having self-determination in future.

The report was passed by an overwhelming majority with 522 votes in its favour and nine against it.

It expressed concerns that Pakistan "has encouraged militants to commit atrocities" in Jammu and Kashmir and takes a firm line on human rights abuses.

Charles Tannock, an MEP, began with a reference to the "tragic and bloody dispute" between India and Pakistan, which "is one of the oldest in the world." He congratulated on the "content and quality" of the report, in particular the "accurate tone" in which it was written.

James Elles, while welcoming the report, expressed concern over "the question of machine-readable Pakistan passports."

Richard Howitt began by stating that "our role in relation to Kashmir should be to support peace processes and to uphold international law."

The approach taken, he said, should be "balanced, constructive, diplomatic." Howitt was disappointed with the report and said Nicholson had "done only harm."

Neena Gill said in time the report "will become an authoritative report on the issue." It has "brought out into the open for the first time the conditions prevailing not only in Kashmir but also in northern areas."