An overwhelming majority of members of the European Parliament (MEPs) attending a landmark event on the rights situation in occupied Kashmir on Tuesday put their weight behind the recommendations of a United Nations report on the state of human rights in the valley, and called on India to immediately halt its atrocities in Kashmir, the Foreign Office said in a press release on Wednesday.
In a significant development, the European Parliament's sub-committee on human rights hosted an official exchange of views on the situation of human rights in Indian-occupied Kashmir. It is the first time since 2007 that the issue of Kashmir has been discussed publicly at an official European Union (EU) forum, the FO said.
The discussion focused on the June 2018 report of the United Nations' Office of High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) on Kashmir. Christine Chung, one of the authors of the report was invited to the event by the sub-committee.
In her comments, she highlighted the dire human rights situation in the Indian-occupied Kashmir and reiterated the OHCHR’s recommendations for establishing a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive and independent international investigation of human rights violations in Kashmir, the FO said.
Sub-committee Chair Pier Antonio Panzeri in his opening remarks expressed the EU’s commitment to uphold and protect human rights throughout the world. The EU, he said, had never shied away from discussing human rights, even when it involved complex political issues.
He pointed out that the issue of Kashmir was the longest unresolved issue on the agenda of the United Nations, and that the EU believes that dialogue among nations is necessary to resolve such issues.
He, however, pointed out that the event was focused on the human rights situation in Kashmir and the plight of Kashmiris.
Besides Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider and Pakistan’s Ambassador to Belgium, the European Union and Luxembourg Naghmana Alamgir Hashmi, the debate was attended by a large number of MEPs, human rights representatives and civil society organisations, think tanks, diplomats from various countries and members of Kashmiri diaspora across Europe.
The MEPs who attended the event included Wajid Khan, Julie Ward, Baroness Nosheena Mubarik, Amjad Bashir, David Martin, Jordi Sole, Sion Simon, Jean Lambert, Richard Corbett, Theresa Griffin and Jo Leinen.
The overwhelming majority of these members rallied behind the recommendations of the OHCHR report and called for their full implementation.
They called on India to immediately put a halt to its atrocities in occupied Kashmir and carry out investigations into the incidents of grave human rights violations.
The MEPs also highlighted the need for peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue through dialogue between Pakistan and India, and with full participation of Kashmiri people.
The event is a huge diplomatic success for Pakistan as it is the first time in more than a decade that the EU has officially organised an event on Kashmir, where Islamabad's concerns regarding India’s human rights violations in occupied Kashmir have been discussed.
The public nature of the event also added to its value in generating awareness about the situation in the Indian-occupied Kashmir. The official nature of the event in one the most prestigious bodies of the European Parliament, the sub-committee on human rights, will also provide a solid ground for other EU institutions to raise the issue of Kashmir with the Indian government during their bilateral interactions, the FO press release said.
Lodhi apprises UN chief on regional situation
Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi called on United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the UN on Wednesday, Radio Pakistan reported.
During the meeting, she briefed Guterres about the latest developments and the situation in occupied Kashmir and asked him to play a role in de-escalating tensions between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack.
India has alleged that those who planned the attacks had links with the Pakistani state — a charge that Pakistan has vigorously denied. Prime Minister Imran Khan extended an olive branch to Delhi yesterday, promising to take action on actionable intelligence provided by the Indian government, but Delhi spurned the gesture.
A Voice of America correspondent tweeted that Lodhi told VoA she had asked Guterres to make a public call for deescalation "because we are perilously close to something that could spin out of control". Lodhi also told VoA that India's 'no talks' posture is "hugely irresponsible".
"We think dialogue is the only way to resolve our differences," she had said.
Lodhi also called on UN Security Council President Anatolio Ndong Mba and briefed him about the situation in the region and the premier's offer to India.
British delegation calls on PM Khan
A British delegation headed by Pakistani-origin cabinet minister Sayeeda Warsi called on Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad today to discuss the regional situation, Radio Pakistan reported.
Prime Minister Khan highlighted atrocities being committed by Indian forces in occupied Kashmir and the jingoism and war hysteria being fanned by the Indian government in the wake of the Pulwama attack.
The delegation appreciated the steps being taken by the government in tackling various challenges including economic, good governance and eradication of corruption.
Baroness Warsi also appreciated the vision and leadership of the prime minister.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari was also present in the meeting.