PoK Is In Chains; Gilgit-Blatistan 'black-holes': Nicholson
26 May 2007
The Daily Excelsior
New Delhi: Slamming Islamabad's human rights violations in PoK, European Parliament's rapporteur Baroness Emma Nicholson said PoK was actually in 'chains' and Gilgit and Baltistan were actually 'black hole' in today's world. 'Very few people have seen the interim constitution of PoK which clearly show that it is not free at all. It is in chains,' Nicholson, whose report 'Kashmir: Present situation and Future Prospects' was passed by European Parliament with an overwhelming majority recently, said in an interview over phone from London. She said the worst sufferers were the poor people of Gilgit and Baltistan and equated the situation of that region similar to the 'black hole', a region that is cut off from the rest of universe. She said her report on Kashmir, which was not well received by the officials in Pakistan, had been welcomed in Pakistan- occupied-Kashmir. 'I am receiving so many messages from people from that region (PoK), thanking me for bringing out the report about human rights and fundamental rights of people in this region and in Gilgit and Baltistan,' she said. The report of Nicholson was passed by the European Parliament on Thursday last with an overwhelming majority of 522 votes in favour and only nine against it. It was not an easy going for 66-year-old European Parliamentarian from South East England, who is also a Life Peer and a member of the House of Lords, as some diplomats from Pakistan were working overtime ever since her draft report was made public in December last year. 'I know the going was tough but that did not stop my resolve to pursue each and every fact of my report minutely. This exercise helped me in countering every propaganda from any side and today it is definitely a proud moment for me,' a jubilant Nicholson said. The European Parliament had come down heavily on Pakistan's repeated failure to protect human rights in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan and asked Islamabad to close down militant camps operating from that country. The Parliament asked militants to declare a ceasefire followed by demobilisation and reintegration process and recognised that without an end to terrorism, there can be no real progress towards a political solution to Kashmir issue or in improving the economic condition of the people in J&K. She said some of the Pakistani diplomats had approached her in Brussels and London pointing out what they called as factual errors. 'I showed them even those documents which were signed by the erstwhile British rulers and the then King of Jammu and Kashmir. 'My friend Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan's High Commissioner to the UK, had also come to me and objected to certain facts of my report. I told her to open your eyes dear Maleeha and accept the fact,' Nicholson recalled. The last desperate attempt against her report was launched by Pakistani Ambassador to European Union Saeed Khalid, who had claimed in a letter to her and Members of European Parliament that the report lacked objectivity and could be seen as an interference in Islamabad's internal affairs as Northern areas was never a part of Jammu and Kashmir. 'The European parliament, in its report should not been seen as hostile to Pakistan, a country which has been a steadfast ally of the West especially in the war against terror and in NATO's efforts in the region,' Saeed's letter said. However, an unfazed Nicholson retorted back to the Ambassador that he should check his facts before making such claims. 'I sent an official map of the region of 1909, showing Gilgit and Baltistan clearly marked within the state borders, a leasehold agreement of 1935 and extract from the instrument of accession of October 26, 1947 of Jammu and Kashmir and letter from Hari Singh, the erstwhile Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, giving reasons for his state's accession to the Domain of India,' she said. 'My every exercise in this report was tiring but at the end I feel happy that I have brought out a document which could be relied on,' the Parliamentarian said and expressed hope that the report would be implemented soon.