Pakistan Must Take Steps To Curb Infiltration: EU Report
23 December 2006
The Times of India
New Delhi: Echoing India's views, the European Union (EU) has asked Pakistan to take 'more effective measures' to curb cross-LoC movement of militants and disfavoured demilitarisation in Jammu and Kashmir till there is 'genuine action' to neutralise threat of Pak-based ultras. In a report to be presented to the European Parliament, the European body has also slammed Pakistan for lack of 'meaningful and representative' democracy in parts of Jammu and Kashmir held by it while drawing a contrast with the situation prevailing in areas of the state across the LoC. The draft report, prepared by the Committee of Foreign Affairs, has attracted sharp reaction from Pakistan, which has dubbed it as 'unwarranted criticism' of the country in contrast to the 'unquestioning endorsement of the Indian standpoint'. Deploring 'all too frequent incidents of terror and violence perpetrated by armed militant groups based in Pakistan', the report said Pakistan's public commitments to curb infiltration across the LoC by 'militants operating out of the territory under its control' is welcome. However, 'it must take much stronger and more effective measures (to do so),' said the report - Kashmir: present situation and future prospects - prepared by Rapporteur Baronness Nicholson of Winterbourne. Recognising and supporting the aspiration of Kashmiri people for a 'significantly-reduced' presence in the state, it points out, however, that 'meaningful demilitarisation can only take place alongside genuine action to neutralise the threat of infiltration of Jammu and Kashmir by militant outfits operating out of Pakistan.' The EU report urged Pakistan to 'revisit its concept of democratic accountability, minority and women's rights in 'Azad Jammu Kashmir' (AJK), which as elsewhere are key to improving conditions for the people and tackling the menace of terrorism.' Regretting that Pakistan has 'consistently failed to fulfil its obligations to introduce meaningful and representative democratic structures in AJK,' it noted the 'continuing absence' of Kashmiri representation in the Pakistan National Assembly. The report highlights that AJK is governed through Islamabad-based Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and that Pakistani officials dominate the Kashmir Council besides which the Chief Secretary, the Inspector General of Police, the Accountant General and the Finance Secretary are all from Pakistan. With regard to this side of Jammu and Kashmir, it notes that the state enjoys a unique status under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, granting it greater autonomy than other states in the Union. 'There remain deficiencies in practice with regard to human rights and direct democracy,' it said but added it was pleased to see recent moves to strengthen democracy as evidenced by the 75 per cent turnout in recent local elections. Reacting to the report, Pakistan's Ambassador in Belgium M Saeed Khalid has said it reflected a 'radical change' in the perception on Kashmir since 2004. 'I am constrained to say that the draft report is so fundamentally flawed and one-sided that it becomes difficult to highlight the many shortcomings and misrepresentations in a short letter,' Khalid wrote to Nicholson.