EU members urge India to stop atrocities in Kashmir


–Kashmir issue discussed publicly at official EU forum for first time since 2007 


ISLAMABAD: An overwhelming majority of members of the European Parliament (MEPs) attending a landmark event on the human rights situation in occupied Kashmir on Tuesday endorsed 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 on Wednesday.

According to a press statement, the FO said that 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 added.

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.