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September 19, 2019

‘A victory for just Kashmiri struggle’: FM on EU debate on IOK

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September 19, 2019


ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday termed the European Parliament’s discussion on Kashmir after 12 years a victory for Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts and the just struggle of Kashmiris.

“The European Parliament not only accepted occupied Kashmir as a dispute that needed to be resolved in line with the Security Council Resolutions, but also expressed its concern over the deteriorating human rights situation there,” said Qureshi, while addressing the National Parliamentarians Conference on Kashmir.

The foreign minister, who also attended and represented Pakistan at the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, said he highlighted the grave human rights situation in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir and his statement was endorsed by many countries, including the members from European Union countries.

He said Pakistan was fully cognisant of the situation in held Kashmir, stood with the people of Kashmir and would continue to extend its moral and diplomatic support to them till the realisation of their just demand for self-determination in line with the UN Security Council Resolutions.

He added: “Pakistan stands with Kashmiris. We are right behind you. The world can turn their eyes from you, but we will not betray our brethren. It is the decision of the government and people of Pakistan as well as Imran Khan, an elected prime minister of Pakistan.”

A day earlier, members of the European Parliament held a discussion on Kashmir. According to the Kashmir Media Service, in a special debate of the plenary of the European Parliament held at Strasbourg on Kashmir, members of the European Parliament demanded the immediate lifting of lockdown, restoration of normalcy, fundamental rights, communication blackout, freedom of movement and release of political prisoners in occupied Kashmir.

Council of the European Union’s Tytti Tuppurainen, who read out a statement on behalf of the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on the situation in Kashmir, said tensions in the region have increased following the Indian government’s revocation of Article 370 that granted a partial autonomy to the disputed. “This step has been accompanied by restrictions of fundamental rights and freedoms,” a European Union External Action press release said.

“The Indian government has deployed a significant number of additional military and paramilitary troops in Kashmir and along the Line of Control. This action was presented by the Indian government as a means to prevent violent protests.”

She added: “While some of the restrictions are reportedly lifted, the situation has not returned to normalcy. There have been arrests of political leaders, activists and human rights defenders.

“The European Union has been following the situation closely since the early days of this escalation of tensions. In early August, High Representative Mogherini spoke on the phone with both her Pakistani and Indian counterparts. In both conversations, the High Representative underlined the importance of avoiding a further escalation and stressed that dialogue between India and Pakistan through diplomatic channels is crucial.”

She also said the EU Parliament’s position on Kashmir remains unchanged and they encourage India and Pakistan to “seek a peaceful and political solution, respectful of the interests of the Kashmiri population”. “This remains the only way to solve a long-lasting dispute that for too long has caused instability and insecurity in the region,” she added.

“We remain concerned about the situation on the ground, with its restrictions on fundamental freedoms. It is crucial that freedom of movement and means of communication are fully restored as well as access to all essential services.

“The High Representative conveyed these concerns to the Indian Minister for External Affairs [Subrahmanyam] Jaishankar, during their meeting in Brussels on 30 August. The Minister debriefed the High Representative on the state of play and on the security situation. Ms Mogherini reiterated the call to avoid an escalation of tensions and stressed the importance of steps to restore the rights and freedoms of the population in [held] Kashmir.

“The EU has also raised the situation in Jammu and Kashmir at the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, in an “item 2” statement on 10 September. In the statement, we encourage the lifting of the remaining restrictions temporarily imposed and to maintain the rights and fundamental freedoms of the affected population.

“We continue to urge both parties to engage in direct dialogue, with a view to a peaceful solution, in full respect of their international Human rights obligations.

In a moment of rising tensions in different regions around the world, no one could afford another escalation in Kashmir. Regional cooperation in South Asia is now more essential than ever, and we will continue to encourage India and Pakistan to resume dialogue and find a peaceful solution for their disputes.”