Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-05-24-Speech-4-017"

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". Madam President, for a long time, it was Europe that decided how other parts of the world should be governed. One of the effects this had is that all the states in a large part of South Asia were combined into one enormous British colonial empire, some parts of which were governed directly by colonial officials, and some indirectly by the successors of traditional sovereigns who had submitted to the colonial supreme authority. In 1947, the future of the states formerly ruled by those sovereigns was in the hands of the sovereigns themselves. They were able to join one of the two new states that had gained independence during that year and into which the colonial empire had been carved up: India, which was large and secular and Pakistan, which, while in those days also comprising Bangladesh, was small and Islamic. The earlier states were unable to regain independence and there was no referendum about whether they wanted to join India or Pakistan. In most areas, this did not lead to any insuperable problems, for the preference of the sovereign and most inhabitants happened to coincide. Kashmir was the exception to the rule. The people would probably have opted for Pakistan, while the sovereign went for India. This goes some way to explaining the problems of the past 60 years. India may be the world’s largest democracy, but that democracy is being dealt heavy blows because of the overlap with Indian territory of a large section of Kashmir. Without any majority backing from its inhabitants, Kashmir can be kept under Indian control only by the army and the police. Democracy there cannot function as it should under such conditions. India, being a secular democracy, has considerable advantages over Pakistan, where religious fanatics and the military have always had far too much influence. It is to precisely those benefits that India can offer that the inhabitants of Kashmir are blind. In the contacts between the European Union and India, instead of sweeping this problem under the carpet, we should draw attention to it, and it was this idea that I found absent from the rapporteur’s original text, which was very much focused on three components: recovery following the earthquake, cementing relations between the European Union and India and more trade and transport as means of improving relations between the leaders of India and Pakistan. The people of Kashmir did not, however, have any role in this. Their long-term desire for a referendum about the future, and international support for this, were explicitly omitted, although it now looks like the final result will be more balanced."@en1

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