EU likely to revise Kashmir report
21 December 2006
Islamabad: Major amendments are likely to be made in the European Parliament’s controversial draft report on Jammu and Kashmir presented to its foreign affairs committee last month. The report has been widely criticized in Pakistan as well as in Kashmiri circles. After the uproar over the 10-page report titled ‘Kashmir present situation and future prospects’, the EP’s foreign affairs committee has extended the deadline for submission of amendment proposals to January 10, 2007, diplomatic sources told Dawn. According to the revised schedule, the committee will hold discussions on the amendment proposals on January 24-25 for adoption of the report on January 30, and the EP’s plenary session would debate it on March 27. Indications from Brussels and Islamabad-based diplomats belonging to key EU member states are that major changes are in the offing. European diplomats acknowledge that the draft report presents a lopsided view and is not entirely accurate. The rapporteur of the report is British Member of EP Baroness Emma Nicholson who is the vice-chairperson of the foreign relations committee. She was appointed by the EP to write a report on a final solution to the Jammu and Kashmir problem and visited the disputed territory as well as Pakistan and India in June 2006. Pakistan’s ambassador in Brussels Saeed Khalid has been in touch with rapporteur Baroness Emma Nicholson and also met her last week, it is learnt. Shortly after the report was presented to the committee, he wrote a letter to her and expressed serious reservations about it. Among other things, it was pointed out to her that the assertion in the report that Pakistan claims Kashmir to be its integral part was a misrepresentation of its position as Pakistan had never claimed any part of Kashmir as its integral part, informed sources told Dawn. Reportedly Baroness Nicholson promptly wrote back defending the draft report and said she looked forward to having a “full and constructive” engagement with him on the report. The government has been particularly irked by what it sees as “unwarranted” Pakistan- bashing in the report. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri even told a visiting delegation of the European Parliament on Monday that Pakistan was disappointment with the draft report. Notably the EU draft report on Kashmir is in sharp contrast to the European Parliament’s Adhoc Delegation Report adopted by the committee on foreign affairs in November 2004 and which accepted Kashmiris were a party to the dispute. The draft report, however, brushes aside calls for a plebiscite on the final status of Jammu and Kashmir calling it “wholly out of step” ignoring the UN Security Council resolutions and the fundamentals of the dispute. The report is critical of the lack of political rights to Kashmiris in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) but overlooks the fact that the people in IHK are not allowed to exercise their full political and civil rights. The report notes that the Indian administered-Jammu and Kashmir “enjoys a unique status” under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution while such a unique status with reference to Pakistan has been criticized.