Donations To Kashmir 'may Fund Terrorists'
21 December 2006
London: Donations to a fund to provide humanitarian relief after the Kashmir earthquake last year may be finding their way to terrorist jihadi groups, according to a report drawn up for the European Parliament. The claim, by a leading Liberal Democrat MEP, has incensed supporters of Pakistani Kashmir, who are calling for changes to the draft findings when the foreign affairs committee considers it in Brussels next month. Baroness Nicholson has written a damning report about Pakistan's lack of democracy and poor human rights record, afterthe earthquake on October 8 last year, which brought a wave of support from Scots with Pakistani links, raising £5m to help the recovery effort. The LibDem MEP has urged the international community to use its 'massive reconstruction pledges to, among other things, support Pakistan's democratic transition'. Her report expresses 'deep concern about corruption and especially recurring reports that these funds may be being diverted to support armed jihadi groups'. She said this was partly due to the initial reaction to the disaster by thePakistani military, leaving a vacuum which was exploited by militant organisations, giving them credibility with Kashmiri communities. The claims were condemned by Bashir Maan, a leading Pakistani Scot and former Labour councillor, who said the report was 'subjective and lop-sided'. He said of the claims of diverted funds: 'There have been jihadi groups involved in the relief of the victims, but to accuse them of diverting that money to their terrorist activities is totally wrong.' David Martin, the Scottish Labour MEP also attackedthe report for alleged bias, and said he has been flooded with angry emails and letters from Scottish Kashmiris complaining about the draft European Parliament report.