March 2007 News

Nicholson's Report Calls For Peaceful Settlement Of Kashmir Issue

22 March 2007
Associated Press of Pakistan

London: The draft report on Kashmir prepared by Baroness Emma Nicholson for the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament has emphasized that India and Pakistan find peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute. The draft report on 'Kashmir: Present situation and future prospects' was substantially changed after intense debate and hectic lobbying by pro-Pakistan MEPs in Brussels on Wednesday. According to details available here, twenty-eight compromise amendments were incorporated while 56 original amendments were adopted. Prominent among those supporting the cause taken up by Pakistan were MEPs Sajjad Karim,Philip Bushill Matthew, Liz Lynne, Sharon Margarete Bowles, David Martin, Richard Howitt (all from UK), Cem Ozdemir (Germany),Veronique De Keyset (Belgium),Vytautus Landsbegis (Lithuania). The report called upon both India and Pakistan to inject a new impetus for exploring options for self- governance, freedom of movement, demilitarization and inter- governmental cooperation on issues such as water, tourism, trade and the environment and to promote a genuine breakthrough in seeking a resolution of the Kashmir dispute. Pakistani and Indian Governments were also urged to transform the ceasefire in place in Siachen since 2003 into a lasting peace agreement. The report noted with concern report by Lawyers without Borders and Human Rights Watch 2006 that large numbers of Kashmiris are detained without any charge, trial or conviction. It deplored documented human rights violations by the armed forces of India especially if the incidence of killing and rape continue in an atmosphere of impunity. The report called on the Indian as well as Jammu and Kashmir governments to repeal all legal provisions providing effective immunity to the members of the armed forces and establish an independent and impartial commission of inquiry into serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by the Indian security forces since the beginning of the conflict. It also welcomed the approval of Women Protection Bill in Pakistan as a positive step in ensuring better protection of women's rights and appreciated the commitment by President Pervez Musharraf and reformist parliamentarians in pursuing these amendments. In the next stage the draft report will now go to the Plenary for final approval. The vote is expected to be held on May 24 in Strasbourg Meanwhile, the Pakistan High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Dr.Maleeha Lodhi has appreciated the positive role by the Muslim community of Britain in highlighting negative points of the report and their efforts to bring about the necessary changes to it. Speaking about the amendments, Baroness Nicholson said: 'I am delighted for the firm support my draft report has received from all parts of Jammu and Kashmir, and for the firm endorsement that it received this morning from my parliamentary colleagues. The Committee placed its full support behind the Composite Dialogue process between Pakistan and India, which is resulting in a range of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) that have enabled, among others, divided families to meet for the first time in 60 years - a process which I witnessed personally last summer.'


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