Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-05-24-Speech-4-020"

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"Madam President, I warmly welcome this debate this morning. It is the culmination of a long process which started in March 2000 when the House voted overwhelmingly for a factual report on the question of Kashmir. It has thus become not just a British problem, but is seen increasingly as a European one, as our debate this morning shows. We have had vigorous discussions in committee and we now have a more balanced report than when we started out this morning. Some 450 amendments have been tabled, around 180 of those amendments have now been included in this document and so there has been a substantial revision. There are still some areas where I remain unhappy, in particular regarding Amendment 21 which refers to the question of machine-readable Pakistan passports. I understand there is no such concern in AJK. We have to be careful to keep the report factual. There are, however, three amendments in particular to which I would like to draw colleagues’ attention and which I shall be supporting. The first is tabled by Mr Tannock on behalf of my group – and I thank him for having done so – where in order to create an atmosphere of confidence and goodwill it is vital to remove all obstructions and hindrances for all Kashmiris to travel freely in the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir. Secondly, this particularly relates to the financial aspects of the earthquake. We all know what terrible suffering there was. There has been a request for further funds from the Government of Azad Kashmir, but I understand that they have not yet had a full reply, therefore Amendment 41 is asking for a clear reply from the Commission so that we know what we have to do in budgetary terms. The last aspect refers to demilitarisation and that is why we have tabled Amendment 55 together with Mrs Lambert. The article in of 7 April was very clear and I commend it to the House. It says that there are three fundamental reasons why we should now be pressing for demilitarisation. First, the present numbers are not needed. We now have a process of nearly three years of a ceasefire and the dangers of militancy have significantly decreased. Second, this would be hugely popular in Kashmir where, to quote from there is an alienation ‘from Indian rule which runs deep, the withdrawal of the army would be widely seen not as a removal of a protective shield but as a lifting of an oppressive curse’. Third, withdrawing troops from Kashmir would be a great boost to the painstaking rapprochement between India and Pakistan. In conclusion, I would like to draw attention, as one or two other colleagues have done, to the work of my colleague Mr Bushill-Matthews. I will be voting in favour of this report because it has a positive message of shining a light on the problems which are faced on a daily basis by the people of Jammu and Kashmir. We should keep that spotlight shining brightly and we should associate everybody possible with the process to find a resolution to the problem for the Kashmiri people."@en1

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