Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-05-24-Speech-4-011"

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". Madam President, I am honoured to present the Committee on Foreign Affairs report entitled ‘Kashmir: present situation and future prospects’. Over the border in Jammu and Kashmir, India continues to be criticised for her large military presence. The report is strong on human rights in Jammu and Kashmir, as in the other areas. In Gilgit and Baltistan, the people are kept in poverty, illiteracy and backwardness. The report makes clear its support for the current peace process. It recognises the ancient and unique heritage of the Kashmiri people. It reflects many principles of the European Union. I earnestly hope that this House will support the report as wholeheartedly during the vote today as it was supported by the Committee on Foreign Affairs. This report correctly contrasts the situation between the world’s largest secular democracy which has devolved structures at all levels – India, including Jammu and Kashmir – and Pakistan, which still lacks full implementation of democracy in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and has yet to take steps towards democracy in Gilgit and Baltistan. It also highlights the fact that there is considerable evidence that over many years Pakistan has provided Kashmiri militants with training, weapons, funding and sanctuary and has encouraged militants to commit atrocities on the Indian-administered side. It takes a firm line on human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir. It is also constructive as it highlights the common heritage shared by India and Pakistan, exemplified in the ancient culture of Jammu and Kashmir, and recognises and values the pluralism, multiculturalism and multi-faith nature and secular traditions of the peoples of Jammu and Kashmir, which have been kept alive in the Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir. This is an enlightened and balanced report, which denounces terrorism and those who support terrorism; it promotes a vision of peace, coexistence, friendship and economic integration and commerce between peoples on both sides of the border and in Gilgit and Baltistan along the lines of the European Union model. I urge this House to adopt it in its entirety, with certain amendments, so that an unambiguous message is sent to the disturbers of peace in that part of the world that the international community will not tolerate extremism or terrorism any more and that we respect and uphold the rights and ethnicity of the Kashmiri people. I have with me a strong statement – of this morning – by Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, Chairperson of the Pakistan People’s Party, in which she welcomes this report for drawing attention to the right of self-determination of the Kashmiri people; for reaffirming the EU’s commitment to the settlement of dispute by peaceful means; for taking note of the impact of the earthquake and urging the European Union to help and support the Kashmiris; for supporting the role of the composite peace process in moving towards a durable settlement for the Kashmiris based on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights; for urging the Indian and Pakistan Governments to facilitate the ceasefire on the Line of Control by calling further on militant armed groups to enrol in a disarmament, demobilisation and rehabilitation process; for encouraging the Pakistan Government to transform the ceasefire in place in Siachin since 2003 into a lasting peace agreement; for urging both governments to allow international human rights organisations immediate and unrestricted access to all parts of the former princely state in order to investigate the human rights situation there; for calling on the Indian Government to put an end to all practices of extrajudicial killings, ‘disappearances’, torture and arbitrary detentions in Jammu and Kashmir; for calling on the Indian and Pakistani authorities to ease restrictions on travel between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad; for urging Pakistan to revisit its concepts of fundamental rights of freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of religious practices in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan; for calling for the first-ever elections to be held in Gilgit and Baltistan and for seeking higher democratic representation in the Northern Areas. She firmly supports this report. I am proud to inform the House that Imran Khan MP, former captain of the Pakistan cricket team and now head of his political party Tehreek-e-Insaaf, today pledged his full support for this report. The plight of the Kashmiri people has been of concern to the international community for nearly 60 years. The European Union strongly supports regional integration, trade liberalisation and economic cooperation. The European Parliament is keenly interested in all aspects of the situation. Let me draw your attention to the hundreds of young people who demonstrated in favour of this report, calling for the democratic freedoms that we recommend. They were beaten up by the police, their banners and petitions to the UN were destroyed. They demonstrated again. Two hundred of their relatives were kidnapped and have not been heard of since. Subsequently, many thousands of citizens of Azad Jammu and Kashmir have held meetings and pledged their full support for the report."@en1

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