News

Loading feeds...
European Union Report on Kashmir--Final PDF Print
Written by Baroness Emma Nicholson   
Thursday, 24 May 2007 00:00

It is for the first time a report of such nature has been produced that  writes about the human rights violations in Gilgit and Baltistan. It urges the Government of Pakistan to revisit its concept of the fundamental rights of freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom of religious practice in POK, Gilgit and Baltistan. The Report draws attention to the fact that India is the world’s largest secular democracy and has devolved democratic structures at all levels . It believes that continuing calls for a plebiscite on the final status of Jammu and Kashmir are wholly out of step with the needs of the Kashmiri people. It also supports genuine actions and commitment to fight terrorism.

Click here to read the full report.

 

Excerpts from EU Report on Kashmir:

 

B.   whereas much of Jammu and Kashmir, in particular Gilgit and Baltistan, suffers from extreme poverty and neglect, with enormous deficiencies in basic literacy and numeracy and in access to healthcare, a lack of democratic structures and major deficiencies in the rule of law and justice; and whereas the whole of Jammu and Kashmir suffers from exceptional economic decline,

Introduction

2.    Draws attention to the fact that India is the world's largest secular democracy and has devolved democratic structures at all levels, whereas Pakistan still lacks full implementation of democracy in AJK and has yet to take steps towards democracy in Gilgit and Baltistan . . .;

Political situation: the aspirations of the people

11.  . . .draws the conclusion, in the light of all the above and of subsequent violations of points set out in the various UNSC resolutions, that the preconditions for using the plebiscite have not been met at present;

14.  Regrets, however, that Pakistan has consistently failed to fulfil its obligations to introduce meaningful and representative democratic structures in AJK; notes in particular the continuing absence of Kashmiri representation in the Pakistan National Assembly, the fact that AJK is governed through the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad, that Pakistan officials dominate the Kashmir Council and that the Chief Secretary, the Inspector-General of Police, the Accountant-General and the Finance Secretary are all from Pakistan; disapproves of the provision in the 1974 Interim Constitution which forbids any political activity that is not in accordance with the doctrine of Jammu and Kashmir as part of Pakistan and obliges any candidate for a parliamentary seat in AJK to sign a declaration of loyalty to that effect; is concerned that the Gilgit-Baltistan region enjoys no form of democratic representation whatsoever;

 

16.  Urges Pakistan to revisit its concept of democratic accountability and minority and women's rights in AJK, which, as elsewhere, are key to improving conditions for the people and tackling the menace of terrorism;

17.  Expresses concern regarding the lack of freedom of expression in AJK and reports of torture and mistreatment, of discrimination against refugees from Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir and of corruption amongst government officials, and calls on the Pakistani Government to ensure that the people of AJK can exercise their fundamental civil and political rights in an environment free from coercion and fear;

18.  Further calls on Pakistan to ensure free and fair elections in AJK, considering that the general elections of 11 July 2006 were characterised by fraud and vote rigging on a massive scale, and that any candidate who refused to uphold the position of the accession of Kashmir to Pakistan was barred from running; also calls on Pakistan to hold elections for the first time in Gilgit and Baltistan;

22.  Encourages the Pakistani Government to close down militant websites and magazines; suggests that the Pakistani and Indian Governments consider introducing a law against hate speech;

27   Recognises the difficult living conditions of a number of groups, such as the forcibly displaced Pandits of the Kashmir Valley; urges that discrimination against them and other groups, particularly in employment, be addressed head on; suggests that such groups seek to empower themselves by establishing committees of their own elected representatives, ensuring that women and under-25s are properly represented;

31.  Recognises that, without an end to terrorism, there can be no real progress towards a political solution or in improving the economic situation of the population throughout Jammu and Kashmir; notes that, while there has been a steady decline in the number of victims of terrorist attacks over the past five years, the activities of constantly mutating AJK-based terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Harakat ul-Mujahedeen have caused hundreds of deaths in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir and beyond;

32.  Deplores documented human rights violations by Pakistan including in Gilgit and Baltistan, where allegedly violent riots took place in 2004, and the all too frequent incidents of terror and violence perpetrated by armed militant groups; urges Pakistan to revisit its concepts of the fundamental rights of freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of religious practice in AJK and Gilgit and Baltistan, and notes with concern allegations by human rights associations such as Amnesty International of torture and detention without due process; strongly urges all parties involved to do all they can to address these violations; welcomes Pakistan's public commitments to curb infiltration across the LoC by militants operating out of territory under its control, but believes it must take much stronger and more effective measures . . .;

33.  Strongly supports the International Crisis Group’s recommendations of 11 December 2006 for Pakistan to disarm militants, shut down terrorist training camps, stop terrorist recruitment and training on its territory and end the flow of money and weapons to the Taliban and other foreign or local militants on Pakistani territory;

34.  Recognises and supports the aspiration of the Kashmiri people for a significantly reduced military presence on both sides of the LoC; points out, however, that meaningful demilitarisation can only take place in parallel with genuine action to neutralise the threat of infiltration of Jammu and Kashmir by militant outfits operating out of Pakistan and alongside CBMs such as putting an end to mutual recriminations, full implementation of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus line, communication and trade links, and other measures defined in close consultation with Kashmiri people on both sides and notes the beneficial impact that this will have on their mental health and sense of security, particularly for children and young people; stresses that only fresh initiatives which look to the future could bring about a virtuous circle;

 

Explanatory Statement

Azad Jammu and Kashmir

1.        While the report laments the continuing political and humanitarian situation in all four parts of Jammu and Kashmir, it draws particular attention to the democratic deficit in AJK and Gilgit and Baltistan, where, regrettably, Pakistan has consistently failed to fulfil its obligations to introduce meaningful and representative democratic structures. The rapporteur is not convinced by Pakistan's oft-repeated argument that the absence of Kashmiri representation in the Pakistan National Assembly reflects the fact that Pakistan does not consider Kashmir as part of its federation, given that Pakistan legislation applies with only occasional modifications throughout Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan under the Adaptation Act of 1 January 2005.

2.        The fact that AJK is governed through the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad, that officials from Pakistan proper dominate the Kashmir Council and that key figures, such as the Chief Secretary of AJK, the Inspector of Police, the Accountant-General and the Finance Secretary are all from Pakistan, is much more telling,  Nor can we ignore the 1974 Interim Constitution, which contains a provision on the basis of which any political activity which is not in accordance with the doctrine of Jammu and Kashmir as part of Pakistan is forbidden. The so-called 'Interim Constitution Act' of 1974 allows for many of the structures that comprise a self-governing state, including a legislative assembly elected through periodic elections, a prime minister who commands the majority in the assembly, an indirectly elected president, an independent judiciary, and local government institutions.  But these provisions are very hollow. The powers of state are held by the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council, chaired by the Prime Minister of Pakistan and with a majority from his Cabinet or by appointment. And in addition, under Section 56 of the Jammu and Kashmir Interim Constitution Act (which was drafted by the Federal Ministries of Law and Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad), the Pakistani government can dismiss any elected government in Azad Kashmir irrespective of the support it may enjoy in the AJK Legislative Assembly and, as throughout Pakistan, the national Islamic Council has over-riding authority over all legislation.

Gilgit and Baltistan

3.        Bad as the situation is in AJK, it is infinitely worse in Gilgit and Baltistan, the northernmost area of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which enjoys no status or even the semblance of democratic representation.

4.        Gilgit and Baltistan (referred to as the Northern Areas by Pakistan) is administered by Pakistan.  As Pakistan maintains that the whole of Jammu and Kashmir is disputed territory, it has not formally incorporated the Northern Areas.  As such, it is neither a province of Pakistan nor a part of AJK.  The Northern Areas Council, set up some time ago, with the boast that it is functioning like a 'Provincial Assembly', screens, in reality, a total absence of constitutional identity or civil rights.

5.        The people are kept in poverty, illiteracy and backwardness. The deprivation and lack of even very basic needs provision can be easily seen - 25 small hospitals serviced by 140 doctors (translating into 1 doctor per 6,000 people) as compared to 830 hospitals and 75,000 doctors in the rest of Pakistan, an overall literacy rate of 33%, with especially poor educational indicators for girls and women; only 12 high schools and 2 regional colleges in Gilgit and Baltistan, with no postgraduate facilities; apart from government jobs, the only other employment being in the tourism sector, which is obviously problematic  A few locals are able to secure government jobs but even then they are paid up to 35% less than non-native employees; there is no local broadcast media.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 September 2010 20:58
 

Login

All site content © www.iakf.org