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End of terrorism must for peace: EU

A European Parliament member says terrorism will slow down the process.

india Updated: Aug 13, 2006 12:43 IST

Terrorism has to be shunned if the India-Pakistan peace process has to move forward, says Neena Gill, a British member of the European Parliament (MEP) in charge of South Asia.

"You can't speed up the peace process if you resort to terrorism. Terrorism can only slow it down," Gill said in an interview after a visit to Nepal.

"It was unfortunate that a Pakistani foreign minister said that," Gill said, referring to Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri's reported remarks, linking the train bombings in Mumbai with a resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir issue.

"When so many people are suffering, it is not a constructive way to create a dialogue," the Ludhiana-born MEP said. Kasuri's remarks sparked outrage in India and snowballed into a row. Kasuri, however, denied making the comments.

"Discussion and dialogue are the only way forward," Gill stressed.

India suspects that terrorists linked to Pakistan are behind the July terror attacks in Mumbai that killed some 200 people and injured hundreds. Pakistan has denied any involvement and asked India to produce evidence.

Gill refused to speculate on who could be behind the Mumbai blasts. "It's cowardly. That way anyone with any cause can justify violence. We have not gone into who was behind the blasts."

"There is an increasing recognition in the European Union and elsewhere that international terrorist cells are working in all parts of the world," said Gill, chairperson of the delegation for relations with South Asia and SAARC.

A debate on J&K is likely to take place in the European Parliament around September.

Underlining the point that India and the European Union needed to step up cooperation in counter-terrorism, Gill conjured up a robust picture of India-EU relations. But she rued that the huge potential remained largely untapped due to an inadequate awareness of the EU role in India.

"A vast majority of the people is not aware of EU or its activities. The political classes and the media in India have to become more aware," she said.

"We have to realise India and the EU are natural partners. We both believe in a multi-polar world," said Gill, who represents the West Midlands for the Labour Party.

Gill, the only female British MP of Asian descent, has been a member of the European Parliament since 1999.

Ahead of an India-EU summit in Helsinki in October, Gill advocated greater interaction among MPs to push India-EU ties and create the kind of understanding necessary to advance their strategic partnership.

"It's time the India-EU action plan moved beyond environment and energy issues. If there is greater understanding among parliamentarians, it will enhance the India-EU relations and take it to a new level."

Gill recommends that there should be a working group of the foreign affairs committee of parliament that is focused on EU.

"A parliamentary summit should be held to promote greater dialogue and discussion between India and the EU," she said.