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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2619

Pakistan in damage control mode at EU over Kashmir

By M Rama Rao - Reporting for Asian Tribune

New Delhi, 15 January ( Sliding into a damage control mode at the European Union over Kashmir after Baroness Nicholson, vice chairperson, EU foreign affairs committee presented a 'damaging' resolution based on her field visit, Pakistan and its Kashmir allies have bombarded Brussels with hundreds of amendments to the 10-page draft resolution and made a subtle bid for EU mediation on Kashmir as also enlistment of Kashmiri people in the dialogue between Delhi and Islamabad.

In all, 452 amendments were presented to the Nicholson report, Majid Trambo, who heads the Brussels based ICHR Kashmir Centre, said. He lobbied 'extensively to alter or amend the unfair' report with the EU's foreign relations committee.

The Nicholson report, echoing the findings of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) group, lashed out at the POK administration and Islamabad for the human rights violations by Pak backed militants. It highlighted Pakistan's role in providing training and infrastructural support to the militants and effectively put the spotlight on the 'absence of representative and responsive government' in POK, and on 'governance' of POK through the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad.

From the foreign relations committee, the Kashmir resolution goes to the EU plenary for adoption. Several fly by night Kashmir groups funded by Pakistan worked hand in hand with Trambo who coordinated the effort with Pak diplomats posted in Brussels and London, according to reports.

A prominent Mirpur Kashmiri, who was sidelined by Majid Trambo in the campaign, has ticked off these campaigners. 'They have a vested interest to keep the pot boiling (on Kashmir)', he told a journalist while preferring not to be named. "They don't want the Kashmir issue to be resolved. Otherwise the large inflow of funds from ISI (to them) will dry up. These people are solely surviving on the crumbs thrown (at them) by Pakistan through the dreaded ISI will become paupers overnight.

Indian diplomats in Europe were amused by the Pakistan campaign of 'vilification' against Baroness Nicholson. They did not join issue with Pak diplomats though.

Pakistan Fears

For Pakistan, the fear is that if the 'objectionable' portions in the Nicholson report are not contested and deleted, more such damaging reports may follow. So, acting to a plan, it carried out its campaign at two levels.

Lobbying for diluting the resolution was carried out by ISI network in Europe. The Institute of Strategic Studies (ISS) in Islamabad offered the academic and intellectual inputs by working on wording of the amendments. Pakistan backed Kashmiri groups flooded the EU secretariat with these amendments to 'ensure a balanced and realistic report on Kashmir'.

According to Mariana Baabar in the Karachi daily, The News International, these amendments also seek to give 'some turf space' to Kashmiri people in the dialogue between Delhi and Pakistan.

The relevant amendment reads: "Having regard to the report on the visits of (European) Parliament's ad hoc delegation to Jammu and Kashmir adopted by the (EU) Committee on Foreign Affairs in November 2004, notably Recommendation No. 1 underlining that there are three parties which have a legitimate interest in finding a solution to the Kashmir dispute namely the Indian government, the Pakistan government and the Kashmiri people and their representatives, and therefore that all three should be fully involved'.

Stressing that both India and Pakistan are important EU partners, one of the amendments says 'the EU need to engage to assist the two countries and the people of Jammu and Kashmir to resolve this dispute peacefully and offers any meetings that may come out of this resolution as part of a shared experience from which the EU can also learn'.

Another amendment wants EU to take note of 'the gravity of human rights violations in both parts of Kashmir, and particularly in the Kashmir Valley' and urges the governments of India and Pakistan to give Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch 'immediate and unrestricted access to Jammu and Kashmir'.

-Asian Tribune -

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