European Parliament Draft Report on Kashmir: Present Situation and Future Prospects Print
Written by European Parliament   
Friday, 01 December 2006 00:00

"whereas much of Jammu and Kashmir, in particular Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), suffers from extreme poverty and neglect, with enormous deficiencies in basic literacy and numeracy, access to healthcare, 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,

Notes that both countries are now members of the nuclear club; draws attention to the fact that India is the world's largest democracy and has a functioning democracy at local level, whereas Pakistan still has to show that it is respecting democratic principles in a great many areas;

Is appalled that the already minimal basic "rights" enjoyed by Pakistani Kashmiris before the earthquake (i.e. food, water, shelter, sanitation, schools, and barely adequate health-centres) have been decimated, compounding a situation notable for a lack of democracy and the existence of oppressive and unjust laws, especially those applicable to women;

Strongly emphasises that, in the context of the massive destruction and social upheaval wrought by the earthquake on an already weakened democratic base, and given the enormous seriousness of the humanitarian situation, continuing calls for a plebiscite on the final status of Jammu and Kashmir are wholly out of step with the needs of the local people and thus damaging to their interests; urges those playing 'big power' politics when millions are in basic need to redirect their energies to fighting the corruption that has wrongly diverted the flow of international funding away from the intended recipients; notes that, even without the earthquake, any plebiscite would have been meaningless without a change in policy from Islamabad, which maintains that all of Kashmir is an integral part of Pakistan's territory; underlines furthermore that a plebiscite without such a policy change could be no more than a rubber stamp on the status quo;

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; abhors 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;

Deplores documented human rights violations by the armed forces of India and the all too frequent incidents of terror and violence perpetrated by armed militant groups based in Pakistan; strongly urges both sides 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; welcomes the continued and determined commitment by President Musharraf to fighting terrorism, which, it is widely recognised, presents enormous challenges; approves and supports multilateral and bilateral EU Member State aid to assist Pakistan in fighting terrorism and in making determined efforts to improve the lives of the people of AJK;

Recognises and supports the aspiration of the Kashmiri people for a significantly reduced military presence in the area; points out, however, that meaningful demilitarisation can only take place alongside genuine action to neutralise the threat of infiltration of Jammu and Kashmir by militant outfits operating out of Pakistan;

Notes that while Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir enjoys a unique status under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, granting it greater autonomy than other states in the Union, there remain deficiencies in practice with regard to human rights and direct democracy; is pleased, therefore, to see recent moves in Jammu and Kashmir to strengthen democracy (as evidenced by the 75% turnout in recent local elections); urges India's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to exercise its full mandate with regard to any suspected or documented violations and, to lend it even greater credibility, urges the NHRC to make good the absence of any human rights professionals on its governing board; looks forward to enhanced progress in this area, and to positive outcomes from the new laws on child labour and on women and violence;

Recognises the difficult living conditions of a number of groups, such as the migrant 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" Article Manager module by by George! Software.

Last Updated on Saturday, 18 September 2010 02:30