May 2007 News

EU cant undo Kashmir resolutions

28 May 2007
The News International
Mariana Baabar

Islamabad: The Foreign Office on Monday said the European Parliament has no mandate to do away with the UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir in so far as plebiscite in the Jammu and Kashmir is concerned. Pakistans position on the status of Northern Areas is well known and as recommended by the UN Security Council resolutions, a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir is to cover the Northern Areas as well, said the Foreign Office spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam, while responding to questions at a weekly press briefing about Pakistans position regarding the status of Northern Areas against the backdrop of a letter written by ambassador to Brussels to Baroness Emma Nicholson, author of a recent report on Kashmir. The spokeswoman did not deny the ambassadors claim though a very senior official at the Foreign Office had earlier told The News that he was surprised at the letter bypassing the Foreign Office in Islamabad once again. When again asked directly to specifically state Pakistans position on the status of Northern Areas, the spokeswoman refused to be drawn into the debate and instead saying: I have stated our position. She said that all these areas were to be addressed in the overall settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. That is why the president has stated in his proposals that the identification of the regions is the first point along with demilitarisation, self-governance and joint management, the spokeswoman said. She shrugged off suggestions that the European parliaments adoption of Nicholsons Report on Kashmir: Present Situation and Future Prospects was a failure of Pakistans foreign policy. She said all the Kashmiris have rejected the report and Pakistan would measure the success of its stand on the basis of response by the Kashmiris. Pakistans position and policy resonates with the Kashmiri people. For us, the test, the credibility and strength of our position and policy is how the Kashmiris see it, the kind of support they give to it; not what one individual from Europe has to say about it, she said. responding to a query whether the report also mentioned the present judicial crisis in Pakistan, the spokesperson replied: Yes, the report also talks about the chief justice and the rights of homosexuals in Kashmir. This shows (what is) the credibility of this report? Though the report has been heavily amended, to which around a hundred amendments were incorporated, it still fails to be a balanced report, she added. The spokeswoman said that there were no Indian prisoners of war in Pakistani jails but to put the matter to rest, the government has allowed families of missing Indian soldiers to visit 10 jails in the country on humanitarian grounds so that they could reassure themselves that their kin were not in this country. There are no Indian prisoners of war in Pakistan, she said. The tour is to begin on June 1, and officials of the Interior Ministry are to conduct it. Officials of the Indian High Commission will also accompany the group. We want this visit to be transparent. We have nothing to hide. However, Tasnim Aslam said the bigger humanitarian issue was the condition of civilian cross-border prisoners, and that Pakistan wanted to see the activation of the judicial committee on this issue as soon as possible. She hoped that the Indian government would grant visas to all the Kashmiris to attend the Pugwash conference in Mumbai. When this conference was held in Islamabad, we facilitated everyone (Kashmiris) to attend it. India should also facilitate all the Kashmiris, she said. Responding to another query whether or not the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Pakistan would be discussed by the two foreign ministers, she said the Indian government had approached Pakistan for a meeting between the two foreign ministers who will be together in Hamburg this week, however, Pakistan has yet to indicate a time for such a meeting. The spokeswoman denied that Pakistans embassy in Greece had warned of a disaster in which around 10,000 illegal Pakistani immigrants were about to be pushed into Greece and Italy. Our ambassador has not sent us any information. Illegal immigration is a problem, which Pakistan and many other countries face. We continue to have dialogue with other countries to resolve this issue. It is not only a question of violating laws but in the end these immigrants end up in a very difficult situation, which makes a human disaster. These figures are exaggerated, though it is difficult to say how many illegal immigrants have travelled, she added. Asked to comment on the statements of visiting EU foreign ministers criticising Pakistans domestic politics, the spokesperson replied, Their mood is their problem. She also said Pakistan has yet to decide whether it will reply to a letter by the EU president to President Pervez Musharraf, criticising the present political and judicial crisis in the country. Online adds: Tasnim Aslam asked all the countries, including European states, to avoid commenting on the Presidential reference against the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, as it is our internal matter. She added that Pakistan has never offered comments on the internal matters of other countries and hope that others countries would also not debate on its issue. About a wall being built by Iran on the Pakistani border, she made it clear that Pakistan had no reservation because Iran was constructing the fence in its own territory.


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