EU, Kashmir Alliance To Discuss Gilgit And Baltistan Rights Violations

8 April 2008

New Delhi: Representatives of the European Parliament and the International Kashmir Alliance (IKA), are meeting in Brussels in a short while from now to discuss problems afflicting the under-developed and neglected Gilgit and Baltistan areas of Pakistan. In a telecon from Brussels, Mr. Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, Secretary General of the IKA and Chairman of the United Kashmir People’s National Party (UKPNP) told ANI that the focus of the deliberations would be on trying to determine the Constitutional status of Gilgit and Baltistan, as well as discussions on the measures required to improve socio-economic conditions of the people of these underdeveloped and remote areas. Mr. Kashmiri also said that the issue of delivering basic human rights to the people of Gilgit and Baltistan would be taken up at the EUP-IKA conference. He said that Tuesday’s conference would take forward the deliberations and resolutions passed by the European Parliament during its last meeting here on May 24, 2007. He further said that the moot would be presided over by Baroness Emma Nicholson, who would be the chief guest, and added that over 100 delegates and about 15 Members of the European Parliament would attend it. The outcome of the deliberations, he said, would be known only towards the evening. All five regions - the Kashmir Valley, Jammu, Ladakh, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan are perceived to be disputed and part of the Jammu and Kashmir state, as they were at the time of partition. The IKA has been at the forefront of promoting intra-Kashmir dialogue. Kashmiri commentators and political activists see the IKA as a symbol of resistance, as it opposed politics of violence and intimidation. It has challenged the division of the state, and reinforced state boundaries at a time when so-called nationalists and other Kashmiri leaders are considering different options that could lead to a permanent division of Kashmir. The IKA has always been of the view that the Government of Pakistan is not in the least bit interested in providing the right of self-determination to Kashmiris and to secure the unity of the state. It has repeatedly reiterated that Islamabad’s sole interest is to get more territory “either by force or by giving people a right of accession in place of right of self-determination”. Pakistan, its institutions and all its lobbyists suffered humiliating defeat in Europe on the issue of Emma Nicholson report issued in the middle of last year. Islamabad literally opened up its coffers to send many delegations to Europe to convince the European Parliament to rule in its favour on the Kashmir issue, but only managed to get the support of nine MEPs