Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Emma Nicholson report Europe becomes a battleground.

Emma Nicholson report Europe becomes a battleground.
Dr Shabir Choudhry 15 January 2007

Pakistan might not have won wars but they know how to win small battles and call shots at appropriate time to off balance its adversaries. They also have ability and will to activate its mechanism to start a world- wide campaign on any issue and make adversaries uncomfortable and defensive.

One can disagree with their style of politics and tactics but it is difficult to discard claim of some Pakistanis (especially those in Punjab) that Kashmir is in their blood. They started Kashmir campaign before Pakistan came in to being; and through out this long unpleasant history their emphasis has been to get Kashmir and not to win hearts and minds of the people.

Emma Nicholson’s draft report on Kashmir has many dimensions. India has one dimension and Pakistan has the other. Kashmiris, as usual, are divided. Some see the report through lenses of Islamabad and New Delhi; and others see it as Kashmiris and try to find good points in it. Europeans on the other hand might have totally different view to the report and the Kashmir dispute. Of course they all draw different conclusions.

True India and Pakistan have travelled a long way since the troublesome days when armed forces of both countries were facing each other with aim of annihilating the other, but it is also true that the fight or struggle which began in 1947 still goes on. India and Pakistan have many things in common, and among them is sense of rivalry and competition in all walks of life, hence we find most policies are formulated by taking a policy of the neighbour in mind.

Beauty, it is argued, is skin deep. Peace process between India and Pakistan, despite some positive aspects, is not that deep either; and Emma Nicholson’s draft report has exposed its hollowness. Soon after the appearance of the report, we saw the whole machinery with a touch of button springing in to action to propagate against the report. One wonders where were all these genius people at the time of compilation of this report.

During compilation of her report, Emma Nicholson visited both India and Pakistan and have met and interviewed more than eight hundred people. Emma Nicholson did not go the South Asia with a draft of this report in her brief case. She had to work within the guide - lines set up by the EU, and that term of reference was her guiding principle and not secret agency of India as alleged by pro Pakistani lobby.

In Pakistani and Kashmiri politics people always look for conspiracies and role of secret agencies, may be this is because of the social and political environment there. Partly this is done to exonerate ourselves from any blame or shortcomings, and accuse others for being anti this or anti that. In my opinion the draft report contains good and bad points; and what we consider to be bad points were not part of her brief at Brussels.

Among those more than eight hundred people she met while preparing this report, include Prime Minister, President, Ministers, Members of Parliament, politicians, opposition leaders, diplomats, Kashmiri leaders, political activists, uprooted people, military experts, former militants, human rights activists, people involved with the UN, experts from various walks of life, and the list goes on. Apart from that Pakistan has fully resourced Embassies in Europe and very effective High Commission in London; not to mention fully financed and staffed Centres in London and Brussels who trade in name of Kashmir and promote Pakistani interest only.

Also they have mushroom growth of Kashmiri and Pakistani parties in UK and Europe with close working relationship with Pakistani missions; and feel proud to work and coordinate their activities with help of Pakistani diplomats. All these parties and groups apparently promote Kashmir cause and support Pakistani stand on Kashmir.

Moreover elected or selected Pakistani/ Kashmiri Members of British Parliament pledge their allegiance to the Crown, but some critics claim that in practise their loyalties appear to lie elsewhere. Some of them are so keen to get in good books of Pakistani establishment that they can easily ignore matters of principle to have a cup of tea with Dr Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistani High Commissioner in London. Some are prepared to ignore advice of Chief whip if they are promised a tea with Prime Minister of Pakistan; and ignore two - line whip if promise of dinner with General Musharaf is made to them.

Emma Nicholson report, if it is against Pakistan’s interest then it is a slap on face of all those who claim to protect and promote interest of Pakistan. It is a failure of Pakistani Missions in Europe; it is a failure of all those groups and individuals who claim to promote Pakistani interest. It is also failure of those who met Emma Nicholson during her visit to South Asia, as they were unable to present convincing arguments to her.

We have seen many reports on Kashmir. We have seen UN General Assembly Resolutions, Security Council Resolutions, UNCIP Resolutions; and many reports from various world bodies. Indian and Pakistani policies are still Kashmir centric; and trend for some years has been to get help of European ‘experts’ to support their view - point. So one can see how Kashmir dispute has provided bread and butter to so many people for so many decades; and even now to some it is a lucrative business, and should continue as long as it brings the dividends.

The draft report in question is only a 10 pages long document with 44 points; and some of them are indeed controversial. Even if the entire report was to be adopted without an iota of change then question is what difference this report would make if all other reports, and UN resolutions could not make much difference in resolution of the dispute or change the plight of the people?

What has amazed most people is reaction to this report. It has attracted around 500 amendments, and worldwide campaign in which intelligence and integrity of the author is ridiculed and she has even been accused of being an agent of India. Emma Nicholson is renowned MEP with competence who has produced good reports for EU in the past; and she was given this new task based on her past track record.

So is there something else behind this hullabaloo? Are these people trying to hide their own inefficiency and lack of interest? Or is it diversion that people forget what General Musharaf has said which is much more serious than what is in the report? Or is it to ‘frighten’ people that they hesitate to say anything on Kashmir because of reprisals – after all who wants to be abused and become controversial?

Establishments of both countries have been calling shots on every aspect of the Kashmir dispute since 1947. They have organised and supported wars and propaganda campaigns against each other; and now that actual war is not possible because of nuclear dimension have they decided to shift the battleground? Perhaps Europe is more suited for politics of future years and this will keep them busy for decades.

I have seen many reports on Kashmir, and some are totally against India, and in which there is not a single word against Pakistan. Question is how did Indians react to these reports? Did they call the authors of those reports agents of ISI? Did they ridicule intelligence and integrity of the writers? Did their High Commission in London activate Indian parties, groups, Mosques, Guru Duwaras, Temples, and other civil society groups to propagate against those reports? Did Indian diplomats travel up and down the country to oppose those reports in public and emphasise the increased role of religious institutions?

And above all, did they encourage and support political black mailing, adding new dimension to largely principled politics of Britain and Europe, for example, if you don’t support us on this report our people will not vote for you in British and European elections.

When I asked these questions from one non Kashmiri anti report campaigner, I was told with a smile, Indians are much more ‘subtle’ and their ‘diplomacy and style of work is different’. May be there is some truth in that but why Pakistani and Kashmiris have to do things differently? Why do we have to use sledgehammer to crack a nut?

This campaign has proved, as if one was needed, that Pakistani establishment can manipulate Kashmiris to achieve certain targets, and activate support in various parts of the world. However I am not convinced if this will win the day for Pakistan as this campaign was like two edge sword which cuts from both ends.

Pakistani strategy it appears had three aims: demonstrate their influence back home and abroad, use pressure tactics to convince and to overload the system with too many amendments that they are not all discussed because of time, and the report is discarded. Out of three they have achieved the first goal. In my opinion they have lost on the other two with huge price to be paid in future. Pressure tactics employed were not viewed kindly by everyone, as use of religious places and stirring up of hatred could have many other dimensions as well which could have implications for diplomats, politicians and community leaders.

Writer is Chairman Diplomatic Committee of JKLF, Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs and author of many books on Kashmir. He could be reached at: drshabirchoudhry@hotmail.com

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