Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Nicholsons report wins hearts & minds of Kashmiris: JKLF leader

Nicholsons report wins hearts & minds of Kashmiris: JKLF leader
[2007-05-07 5:15:47 PM GMT]
LONDON: Congratulating Baroness Emma Nicholson for positive report on Kashmir, Chairman Diplomatic Committee of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Dr Shabir Chaudhry has said that she won minds and hearts of people of Kashmir.

Baroness Emma Nicholson’s draft report on Kashmir became an official document after the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Union endorsed the amendments by 60 votes to 1 in Brussels.
The report will go to the plenary session at Strasbourg on May 21 for final vote after which it will be declared as the official property of the EU.
The report criticized India for its large military presence on the LoC and multiple human rights abuses documented in several reports received by the EP.
Baroness Nicholson said that although the report was not binding on the Pakistan and Indian governments, but expressed the hope that much could be achieved through dialogues and bilateralism.
After Lord Mountbatten, Baroness Emma Nicholson is the first European politician to have made a mark on the history of Kashmir, and unlike Mountbatten, in very positive way.
Name of Lord Mountbatten in this context will be remembered in modern Kashmiri and Pakistani history, and in view of many, for all the wrong reasons.
His 'pro-Congress attitude', inequitable decisions and 'neck break speed' resulted in chaos and destruction that led to worst communal riots in history of the Indian Sub Continent which brought death and misery to millions of people. As a result of wrong decisions taken in 1940s people of the region still continue to suffer; and people of Jammu and Kashmir are among those who have paid very heavy price for the wrong decisions of 1940s.

“I am proud to have a good working relationship with politician of her stature, and strongly feel that she must be supported in her endeavours to help forcibly divided and oppressed people of former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. In my last meeting with her she said: as a democrat and a friend of Kashmiri people I strongly believe that they deserve to enjoy fruits of democracy and live in peace and harmony. They have every right to enjoy all human rights and practise what they believe in all parts of Kashmir with dignity and honour, Dr Shabir said.

He said that it was also good to learn that Pakistani diplomats and other officials give her more importance and respect now, and this was clearly evident in official and unofficial functions organised by Pakistanis in London.
Perhaps they have, at last, realised that it was not good diplomacy to demonise and intimidate notable British politician; or perhaps they have understood that she wasn't anti Pakistan; and all she wanted to do was to highlight the plight of Kashmiri people suffering on both sides of the LOC.

Baroness Nicholson expressed surprise at the attitude of those politicians who preach democracy for their own people but take different view when it comes to rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir. In private meetings they agree that democracy is the bed - rock of freedom and fundamental rights, but because of political expediency they hesitate to come out and openly support fundamental rights of the Kashmiri people.

“War, militancy and antagonism is not the way forward if you sincerely want to resolve the Kashmir dispute and problems of the people who have suffered for the past so many decades, she said. Security, rule of law and economic prosperity could only come if there is peace in the region; and civil society institutions are made stronger,” the JKLF leader said.

Baroness Emma Nicholson clarified her point of view on the issue of plebiscite and right of self – determination. This is a fundamental and natural right of every individual, but conditions laid down for such plebiscite in the UNCIP resolution were not met, as Pakistan refused to withdraw her forces from areas of the state under her control; and now situation has changed and those conditions could not be met. In any case, plebiscite in view of present ground realities might not bring about much desired peace and harmony.

Dr Shabir said in her honest opinion, 'the best way forward at present is to support the present peace process. We need more CBMs, more trade, more cultural and economic ties and this will lead to peace and harmony'. However, she was disappointed that some Kashmiri parties have not taken part in the Round Table conference.

Baroness Emma Nicholson said, 'EU has a limited role to play in resolving the Kashmir dispute. We have no mandate to intervene - we are not United Nations. For us to mediate in this matter we need to be invited by both countries'. EU and other members of the international community are concerned about the situation in South Asia and about the plight of the Kashmiri people.

She said, “This report, which I have authored, is no longer my report, now it is an official document – the EU Foreign Affairs Committee has passed it. Before compiling this report she visited both sides of the LOC and 'consulted very extensively with politicians at every level (in government and in opposition), including the APHC, civil society, academics, businessmen, human rights commissions, international diplomats, and the military; inhabitants of 'migrants' and refugee camps, Council, Commission and Embassy representative and many EU citizens of Kashmiri origin'.

Also she had 'comprehensive briefings' from the military officials on both sides, and considerable input from Commission delegations in New Delhi and Islamabad. Despite this hard work, detailed investigation and consultation, Emma Nicholson was accused by the Pakistani lobby of being a RAW agent; and some went as far as saying that the report was written by Indian secret agency and given to her. This attitude speaks volumes about the mind - set of Pakistani lobby, some officials and politicians.

To a question that more than 700,000 Kashmiris living in Britain are not in favour of her report, she said there hasn't been any research or study to prove this point. As far as opposition to the report is concerned it is fading out – people are beginning to understand true value of the report; and in any case we don't know who were opposing the report? People of Jammu and Kashmir are not recognised as an ethnic group in Britain; perhaps some work needs to be done for this purpose, and as a Member of House of Lords I am willing to work on this.

EU has bilateral relationship with different countries. Relationship with India is very close because of shared values - we are natural allies. Indian President addressed Plenary Session of the EU and got standing ovation, and this reflects the strength of our relationship. We would like to have similar kind of relationship with Pakistan, but it is not possible to establish such relationship in absence of true democracy – it is not easy to work with military and undemocratic governments.

Baroness Emma Nicholson said, this report is a set of suggestions and it has highlighted the plight of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. There are 27-countries in EU, and some of them had little or no interest in the affairs of Kashmir, now at least they are better informed. The report will go before the Plenary Session on 21 st May, and I expect support of all those who believe in democratic values and fundamental rights for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

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