The European Parliament has adopted Baroness Emma Nicholson report on Kashmir by an overwhelming 522 votes in favour to 19 votes against.
The report titled ‘Kashmir: present situation and future prospects’ is critical of Pakistan’s treatment of Kashmiris in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Gilgit and Baluchistan.
It also says that the “continuing calls for a plebiscite on the final status of Jammu and Kashmir are wholly out of step with the needs of the local people and thus damaging to their interests.” It also traces the rise of jehadi forces in Pakistan.
The Nicholson report’s adoption was largely expected after it was accepted by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Union two months ago with 60 votes in favour and one against.
Several Kashmiri lobbies here, including the International Kashmir Alliance — an umbrella group of several smaller groups — hailed the passage saying it should make Pakistan change its Kashmir policies and alleviate the plight of Kashmiris. “I think it is very good news for all Kashmiris who believe in democracy and human values,” said Dr Shabir Choudhry, diplomatic committee chairman of the IKA.
“For the first time Pakistan is in the dock and the onus is on it to improve the human rights situation of the Kashmir in its control,” he added. Former Pakistan cricket captain and leader of the Tehreek-e-Insaaf party too had come out in support of the Nicholson report.
Asked about the impact the report’s adoption would have, Dr Shabir said “it shows that 27 countries of Europe accept the findings in the report. For the first time a united view on Kashmir has emerged. It affects Pakistan’s image.”
A high-powered delegation from Pakistan, including former minister Mushahid Husain, had lobbied in Brussels against the report for over a fortnight.
The passage of the report will not have official status but will reflect the general thinking in Parliament about the Kashmir issue. Officials were at pains to clarify this distinction between an official EU resolution and approval of the report in Parliament.
The report criticises the democracy deficit in Pakistan and the human rights situation in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
It regrets that “Pakistan has consistently failed to fulfil its obligations to introduce meaningful and representative structures” in the Kashmir under its occupation.