Member of the European Parliament Richard Howitt said the final report on Jammu and Kashmir, to be adopted by the European Union, "will be fair, accurate and balanced". Howitt has been touring Jammu and Kashmir and PoK ahead of a discussion on the Emma Nicholson report on Jammu and Kashmir in the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on February 26.
The Nicholson report, entitled Kashmir, Present Situation and Future Prospects, had contended that plebiscite was not in the Kashmiris’ best interests. It had also highlighted the lack of democracy in PoK while asking Pakistan to curb cross-border infiltration. Pakistan had vigorously protested against the draft report, calling it one-sided, reflecting only India's viewpoint.
Speaking of Britain’s stance on the report, Howitt, the foreign affairs spokesperson of the British Labour Party in the European Parliament, said on Saturday that Britain considered the Nicholson report "provocative and inflammatory." It has sought 54 amendments to the report. "We think that the language of the report, which is undiplomatic and unparliamentary, should be changed," he said, "and the paragraph on plebiscite should be removed."
<b1>Howitt, who is also the vice-president of the European Parliament Human Rights Sub-Committee, said he was heartened by the fact that there was extensive discussion on human rights abuse, and reiterated the EU’s stance that both sides of the LoC should be demilitarised.
He added that people-to-people contact and cross-border trade should be encouraged, and international engagement – through NGOs, politicians and even tourism – should be promoted.