Plebiscite Not In Kashmiris' Interest: EU
28 November 2006
Brussels: Terming the plebiscite on the final status of Jammu and Kashmir against the interests of Kashmiri people, the European Parliament has welcomed the resumption of bilateral talks between India and Pakistan for a peaceful settlement of the dispute. '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,' said the report on Kashmir being debated by EP's foreign affairs committee in Brussels, the EU headquarters on Tuesday. The report lauded India and Pakistan on the peace moves currently underway and welcomed the fact that bilateral talks, put on hold for three months following the July 2006 bombings in Mumbai, have restarted. The rapporteur of the report titled 'Kashmir, Present Situation and Future Prospects' is British Member of European Parliament Baronness Emma Nicholson who visited Kashmir earlier this year. 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. The EP's foreign affairs committee debated the draft report on Kashmir which stresses the need for the region, the EU and the international community to support the current bilateral talks for the aim of generating a more stable and prosperous future for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The report says that both India and Pakistan are important EU partners and notes that the EU has not been invited to take on a mediating role in the Kashmir dispute. Noting that both countries are now members of the nuclear club, the EP report says that 'India is the world's largest democracy and has a functioning democracy at local level, whereas Pakistan still has to show that it is respecting democratic principles in a great many areas.' The report also 'deplores documented human rights violations by the armed forces of India and the all too frequent incidents of terror and violence perpetrated by armed militant groups .' It 'regrets that Pakistan has consistently failed to fulfill its obligations to introduce meaningful and representative democratic structures in AJK (the Pakistani administered Kashmir).' The EP report notes that '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 .' Diplomats from the Indian and Pakistani embassies in Brussels followed the debate, INEP news said.