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Menetlus : 2005/2242(INI)
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A6-0158/2007

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P6_TA(2007)0214

Arutelud
Neljapäev, 24. mai 2007 - Strasbourg Uuendatud versioon

4. Kashmir: praegune olukord ja tulevikuväljavaated (arutelu)
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  Die Präsidentin. Als nächster Punkt folgt der Bericht von Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne im Namen des Ausschusses für auswärtige Angelegenheiten zu Kaschmir: derzeitige Lage und künftige Perspektiven (2005/2242(INI)).

 
  
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  Nicholson of Winterbourne (ALDE), rapporteur. – Madam President, I am honoured to present the Committee on Foreign Affairs report entitled ‘Kashmir: present situation and future prospects’.

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.

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.

 
  
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  Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Member of the Commission. Madam President, I followed with great interest the very lively debate in the Committee on Foreign Affairs on the Kashmir report by Baroness Nicholson. There is much food for thought in this report. It is too comprehensive for me to be able to respond in detail today, but I should like to reflect on some of the issues which it raises.

The focus on Kashmir is timely. On the political front, there have been many positive developments, which, for the first time in many years, give some hope that this long-standing issue is getting closer to a solution. Both India and Pakistan have indicated that the Line of Control could become a ‘soft border’.

The European Union has expressed its firm support for the reconciliation process between India and Pakistan. But the road is still full of pitfalls. It is encouraging that the composite dialogue process remains on track despite terrorism. I was in Delhi when the terrible attacks on the daily Lahore-Samjhota Express train took place last February.

It would indeed be tragic if the peace process could be taken hostage by terrorists. I see no alternative to both countries addressing their differences through dialogue. This will, hopefully, lead eventually to settlement of all bilateral issues. I also feel it is important that the Kashmiris themselves have become more involved in the arrangements for the peace process.

I would like to say a few words about the terrible earthquake that struck Kashmir on the morning of 8 October 2005 and which, as Baroness Nicholson’s report describes, had a devastating impact on the lives of the Kashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control, especially in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and the North West Frontier Province. I had the opportunity to visit the earthquake-affected areas in person when I visited Pakistan to represent the European Commission at the earthquake reconstruction conference in November that year.

The European Commission responded to this tragedy by providing humanitarian aid of EUR 48 million and by committing, in December 2005, a EUR 50 million programme on ‘Earthquake Recovery and Reconstruction support to Pakistan’, which covers rehabilitation of education and health facilities in the affected areas, an emergency education programme and community-based livelihood recovery schemes. Thus, we are aiming to do what the report recommends, namely help the most vulnerable and restore economic activities in the affected area.

This earthquake response comes in addition to other development programmes in Pakistan under our country strategy. Although the Commission has been quick to react to this challenge, I nevertheless expect that the reconstruction effort will still take a number of years. The Commission’s reconstruction programme will be implemented over a period of five years.

As far as the Northern Areas of Pakistan are concerned, the Commission has been active there over many years in developing human resources especially, in improving the public school system and in cooperating with the Aga Khan Education Services. While implementing our programmes there, we have ensured that all communities – and government schools – benefit from project activities.

Before I conclude, I would like to thank Baroness Nicholson for the encouraging words she found to recognise the work of the Commission’s delegations in Islamabad and New Delhi. This is much appreciated.

I would just like to add that I would have loved to have stayed for the whole debate but, as communicated, I have to leave before the end due to long-standing commitments which I could not alter after Parliament’s change to the agenda, but my colleague Mrs Grybauskaitė will take over and stay on in the debate.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. – Madam President, the tragic and bloody dispute over the beautiful Himalayan territory of the former princely state of Kashmir between the two great south-Asian countries of India and Pakistan is one of the oldest in the world, going right back to UN Security Council resolutions 39 and 47 of 1948.

I strongly support the Nicholson report, and I congratulate the rapporteur on its content and quality, after considerable rebalancing during the committee stage, both in tone and in terms of its approach. The report is accurate and primarily recognises that current ongoing bilateral confidence-building talks between the Indian and Pakistani Governments remain the best strategy to achieve a just and enduring peace between these two nuclear-armed states. My British colleague, Mr Bushill-Matthews, who alone voted against it in the Committee on Foreign Affairs, informs me that he will now be supporting the report, which indicates how it has progressed during its various stages.

Mercifully, since the agreed ceasefire on 25 November 2003, we are now witnessing one of the most peaceful periods in terms of military action since the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war: a ceasefire that has survived serious provocations to the Government of India, including the Mumbai terrorist bombings. Nevertheless, Kashmiri Pandits still continue to claim that cross-border infiltrating terrorists are attempting a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the local Hindu population, albeit it on a vastly reduced scale.

Similarly, the report rightly calls for restraint by the Indian military, with full respect by the security forces for human rights, the wellbeing of civilian populations and observance of issued court orders.

The report highlights the lack of genuine democracy in Azad Kashmir and, in particular, for the first time, the plight of the inhabitants of Gilgit-Baltistan. There are also general concerns expressed in AJK over a number of issues, including women’s rights and religious minority rights. I, and many colleagues, warmly welcomed in 2005 the launching of a bus service across the line of control between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad allowing divided families to be reunited after nearly 60 years, and it is my hope that, eventually, the borders, including the line of control, will be just a line on the map and become increasingly irrelevant.

We in the EU have already proved this with our four freedoms of movement of people, goods, services and capital. A similar future vision of a south-Asian economic community by 2025 will require free trade across the line of control. Both India and Pakistan, much to their credit, cooperated positively after the October Kashmir earthquake to provide humanitarian aid to thousands of victims and displaced people. But much remains to be done to resettle the displaced populations permanently.

The EU’s role, in my opinion, is to support a peaceful settlement of the problem over the former princely state, with the EU willing to act as an honest broker for peace, but only if both sovereign governments ask for our help, as, ultimately, we regard the Kashmir dispute as a bilateral matter.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to repeat my appeal to all parties that support the militants waging a violent Jihad to stop their activities immediately.

 
  
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  Jo Leinen, im Namen der PSE-Fraktion. – Frau Präsidentin, liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen! Indien und Pakistan haben drei Kriege wegen der Kaschmir-Region geführt. Das erinnert mich stark an den Streit zwischen Deutschland und Frankreich über die Region Elsass-Lothringen, in der wir uns hier uns befinden. Auch dort wurden drei Kriege geführt. Allerdings haben Deutschland und Frankreich nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg beschlossen, die Konfrontation zu überwinden und die Kooperation zur Maxime ihrer Politik zu machen. Die Erfolge dieser Politik können wir heute in der Europäischen Union besichtigen.

Die Sozialdemokratische Fraktion würde sich wünschen, dass auch Indien und Pakistan die Kooperation zur Maxime ihrer Politik machen und die Konfrontation hinter sich lassen. Die Menschen in der Kaschmir-Region hätten einen enormen Vorteil und die ganze Region würde aufblühen. Ich glaube, SAARC könnte eine ähnliche Erfolgsgeschichte werden wie die EU.

Frieden gedeiht natürlich am besten dort, wo Demokratie herrscht. In diesem Bericht kritisieren wir sehr stark das Nichtvorhandensein von Demokratie bzw. demokratische Defizite in der Kaschmir-Region sowie die vielen Menschenrechtsverletzungen. Die Menschen leiden auf beiden Seiten der Kontrolllinie. An alle Beteiligten richtet sich also die Aufforderung, dort endlich Demokratie und die Achtung der Menschenrechte einzuführen.

Wir sehen, dass es in der Region enorme Gewalt gibt. 80 000 Menschen sind getötet worden, und wir haben Gewalt innerhalb der Region, aber auch Infiltration von außen. Es muss aufhören, dass gewaltbereite Gruppen über die Grenze in die Region kommen. Wir fordern natürlich auch das Militär auf, die Menschenrechte zu achten. Ferner fordern wir die Menschenrechtskommissionen auf, in beiden Ländern solche Verletzungen zu verfolgen und auch vor den Gerichten zu ahnden. Es darf nicht sein, dass Menschen entführt, gefoltert und getötet werden und dies keine Folgen hat.

Wir meinen, dass die Europäische Union sich für den ökologischen und ökonomischen Wiederaufbau einsetzen soll. Da ist im Bereich humanitäre Hilfe Hervorragendes geleistet worden. Ich selber habe das sehen können. Dieses Engagement muss weitergehen. Dieser Bericht ist offensichtlich weltweit der erste zu Kaschmir. Ich danke der Berichterstatterin für ihren Mut, etliche Dinge in den Bericht hineinzuschreiben. Wir haben Monate gekämpft. Ich glaube, dieser Bericht ist eine Hilfe für die Menschen in der Region und auch eine Hilfe für den Friedensprozess zwischen Indien und Pakistan.

 
  
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  István Szent-Iványi, a ALDE képviselőcsoport nevében. – Először is gratulálni szeretnék Nicholson asszonynak az átfogó és fontos jelentésért. Tudom, hogy sokféle nyomás nehezedett rá és ő ennek ellent tudott állni. Tudom, hogy egy brit képviselőnek nem könnyű a belpolitikai vonatkozásoktól függetleníteni magát és neki sikerült. Ezért minden tiszteletet megérdemel és támogatom a jelentését.

Az Európai Unió komoly kötelezettséget vállal a kasmíri földrengés által okozott károk enyhítésében. 100 millió euró értékben vállaltunk támogatást, és a további években Pakisztánnak 200 millió, Indiának 470 millió eurós támogatást nyújtunk a fejlesztési támogatás keretében. Ez azt jelenti, hogy van morális alapunk arra, hogy ezekben a kérdésekben véleményt nyilvánítsunk.

Aggodalommal tölt el minket, hogy a „line of control” mindkét oldalán súlyos emberi jogsértésekre került sor. De nagyon biztató az, hogy az indiai miniszterelnök, Szingh meghirdette a zéró toleranciát, és láthatóan az elmúlt években nagyon pozitív előrelépés történt az indiaiak által ellenőrzött területeken. Ugyanezt várjuk el Pakisztántól is.

Pakisztántól azt is elvárjuk, hogy sokkal határozottabban lépjen fel a szélsőségesekkel és a terroristákkal szemben, s ne engedje, hogy azok beszivároghassanak az India által ellenőrzött területekre. A konfliktus nem egyszerű határkérdés. Nem oldható meg máról holnapra. A bizalomépítés az első feltétele annak, hogy a konfliktus megoldódjon.

Baroness Nicholson jelentése rámutat, hogy hol kell igazán javítani ezen a helyzeten. Meg kell teremteni a társadalmi, gazdasági feltételeket. Családegyesítések lehetővé tételére van szükség. A kereskedelmi kapcsolatok élénkítésére van szükség, az infrastruktúra fejlesztésére, új oktatási intézmények létesítésére és munkahelyteremtésre. De mindez nem elég. Ez szükséges, de nem elégséges. Fontos, hogy meginduljon a politikai dialógus mind az indiai kormány, mind a pakisztáni kormány, mind pedig a kasmíri politikai élet teljes spektrumával, mindazokkal az erőkkel, amelyek hajlandók az erőszakról lemondani.

Nagyon fontos, hogy a kasmíriak is bevonásra kerüljenek a probléma megoldásába, mert nem lesz addig tartós megoldása a kasmíri helyzetnek, amíg a kasmíriak szabadon, demokratikusan választott vezetői ebben nem vehetnek részt. Én úgy ítélem meg, hogy India az elmúlt időszakban nagymértékű rugalmasságot mutatott, és ugyanezt várjuk el Pakisztántól is, hiszen nekünk mindkét országhoz fontos kapcsolataink fűződnek. Mindkét ország fontos partnerünk és a legfontosabb érdekünk pedig az, hogy a két ország békésen, konstruktívan tegyen végre pontot a konfliktus végére és addig is a bizalom és a párbeszéd légkörében történjen minden.

 
  
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  Cem Özdemir, im Namen der Verts/ALE-Fraktion. – Frau Präsidentin, meine Kolleginnen und Kollegen! Zunächst möchte ich der Berichterstatterin Baroness Nicholson für den Bericht danken. Ich möchte auch den Kolleginnen und Kollegen danken, die mitgeholfen haben, dass sich dieser schwierige und sehr umstrittene Bericht doch deutlich in Richtung eines Kompromisses bewegt hat und wir alle ein großes Stück weitergekommen sind. Ich glaube aber, dass wir in der heutigen Abstimmung noch einiges vor uns haben, damit der Bericht am Ende tatsächlich ein Bericht ist, der dem gemeinsamen Ziel dient, dass wir keine Beschimpfung von Indien, Pakistan oder von wem auch immer veranstalten, sondern dass wir Kaschmir helfen, damit diese Region endlich eine Region des Friedens, eine Region des Wohlstands und eine Region, in der die Ökologie und die Menschenrechte verwirklicht werden, wird. Wir können heute einen wichtigen Beitrag dazu leisten, wenn wir alle miteinander über unseren Schatten springen und uns auf den Kern konzentrieren. Es handelt sich um einen Kaschmir-Bericht und nicht um einen Indien- oder Pakistan-Bericht. Vergleichbare Berichte machen wir mit gutem Recht.

Ich möchte darauf hinweisen, dass manches von dem, was an Kritik über Indien oder Pakistan im Bericht steht, ohne jeden Zweifel seine Berechtigung hat. Man könnte gerade am Beispiel Pakistan manches noch zusätzlich sagen. Doch dies ist nicht der Ort für eine Pakistan-Debatte, sondern es geht um eine Kaschmir-Debatte. Kaschmir war in der Geschichte von alters her immer ein Brücken- und Knotenort zwischen Vorder-, Zentral- und Südasien. Diese Region, die sogar von Led Zeppelin für die Rockmusikfans besungen wurde, kann wieder zu einer Region werden, in der die Menschen aus allen Teilen Kaschmirs in Frieden und Wohlstand zusammen wohnen können. Lassen Sie uns heute einen Beitrag dazu leisten. Das ist der beste Beitrag gegen Terrorismus, den man leisten kann. Diese Region braucht nicht mehr Militär. Sie braucht weniger Waffen, weniger Militär. Dann wird dieses Parlament heute Indien und Pakistan ein Signal senden: Macht weiter auf dem Weg des Friedens! Macht alles, was die Grenze unwichtiger macht, damit Kaschmir eines Tages eine Region des Wohlstands und des Friedens wird!

 
  
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  Erik Meijer, namens de GUE/NGL-Fractie. – Voorzitter, lange tijd is vanuit Europa beslist hoe andere delen van de wereld moesten worden bestuurd. Een van de gevolgen hiervan is dat alle staten in een groot deel van Zuid-Azië werden samengevoegd tot een enorm Brits koloniaal rijk. Ten dele werd dat rechtstreeks bestuurd door koloniale ambtenaren, maar voor een ander deel was er ook onrechtstreeks bestuur. Daar regeerden erfgenamen van traditionele vorsten die aan zich aan het koloniale oppergezag hadden onderworpen.

In 1947 werd de keuze voor de toekomst van de door die vorsten bestuurde voormalige staten overgelaten aan de voorkeur van deze vorsten zelf. Zij konden zich aansluiten bij een van de twee in dat jaar onafhankelijk geworden nieuwe staten waarin het koloniale rijk werd opgedeeld: het grote seculiere India en het kleine islamitische Pakistan, dat toen ook nog Bangladesh omvatte. Herstel van de onafhankelijkheid van de voormalige staten werd uitgesloten en een volksstemming over de keuze tussen India en Pakistan werd niet gehouden.

In de meeste gebieden heeft dat geen onoverkomelijke problemen opgeleverd. Omdat de voorkeur van de vorst en van de meeste inwoners samenviel. Juist in Kasjmir was dat niet het geval. De bevolking zou waarschijnlijk gekozen hebben voor Pakistan en de vorst koos voor India. Dit verklaart de problemen in de afgelopen 60 jaar.

India is weliswaar de grootste democratie ter wereld, maar die democratie wordt ernstig beschadigd, doordat een groot deel van Kasjmir behoort tot het grondgebied van India. Zonder steun van de meerderheid van de inwoners, kan Kasjmir alleen door leger en politie onder controle van India worden gehouden.

Zo kan de democratie daar niet volwaardig functioneren. India heeft grote voordelen als seculiere democratie, waardoor het zich gunstig onderscheidt van Pakistan, waar religieuze fanatici en militairen vanouds een veel te grote invloed hebben. Die voordelen van India zijn nu voor de inwoners van Kasjmir juist niet waarneembaar.

In de contacten tussen de Europese Unie en India moeten we dat probleem niet verzwijgen, maar er aandacht voor vragen. Die aandacht miste ik in de oorspronkelijke tekst van de rapporteur. Die was zeer sterk gericht op drie elementen: herstel na de aardbeving, versterking van de betrekkingen van de Europese Unie met India en een betere verstandhouding tussen de leiders van India en Pakistan door middel van meer handel en verkeer.

Daarentegen speelde het volk van Kasjmir geen rol. Het reeds langdurig bestaande streven naar een referendum over de toekomst en de internationale bijval daarvoor bleven nadrukkelijk buiten beschouwing. Het ziet er inmiddels naar uit dat het eindresultaat evenwichtiger zal zijn.

 
  
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  Bastiaan Belder, namens de IND/DEM-Fractie. – Voorzitter, "vredesopbouw in Kasjmir" – onder dit motto staat de Kasjmir-EU-week begin juni. Gezien de mensenrechtenschendingen in het gebied, is dit een belangrijk initiatief. Aan beide zijden van de controlelijn is hulp nodig. Denk alleen al aan de acties van militante groepen zowel in de Indiase staat Jammu en Kasjmir als in het Pakistaanse deel Azad Kasjmir. Het is noodzakelijk dat de Europese hulp aan alle slachtoffers binnen Kasjmir geboden wordt.

Humanitaire hulp betekent echter geen politieke inmenging. De Verenigde Naties ondervonden begin mei, dus deze maand, nog dat hulpoperaties moeilijk liggen in het gebied. 83 medewerkers moesten worden geëvacueerd. Plaatselijke groeperingen die geen wederopbouwprojecten in de wacht hadden gesleept, zouden de bevolking tegen de Verenigde Naties hebben opgezet, aldus een VN-woordvoerder.

Ook de rapporteur merkt terecht op dat de Europese Unie niet gevraagd is om als externe bemiddelaar in het conflict in Kasjmir op te treden. De plaats die de SAARC binnen het verslag krijgt, steekt evenwel schril af tegen dit standpunt. De waarde van internationale interventie, hulp en bemiddeling moet de EU niet uit het oog verliezen. Het is een omissie dat deze waarde zo mager onderkend wordt in dit verslag. Raad en Commissie, hoe denkt u uw hulp te verwezenlijken in relatie tot alle Kasjmiri's en de Aziatische regionale partners?

 
  
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  Philip Claeys, namens de ITS-Fractie. – Voorzitter, het spreekt voor zich dat de Europese Unie een betekenisvolle bijdrage zal moeten leveren om het vredesproces in Kasjmir te steunen. Het is belangrijk dat er gepraat wordt en gepraat blijft worden tussen alle betrokken partijen.

Sta mij toe om slechts één van de vele aspecten aan te raken, namelijk het terrorismeprobleem. Het is een feit dat vele terreuracties in de regio uitgevoerd worden door groepen die vanuit Pakistan opereren of die vanuit Pakistan gesteund worden. Lashkar e-Tayyiba en Hizb ul-Mujahedin zijn daar twee voorbeelden van. President Musharraf heeft zich al meermaals geëngageerd om het terrorismeprobleem aan te pakken, maar ik vrees dat hij nog een heel lange weg heeft af te leggen.

Hetzelfde kan gezegd worden van het extreme islamisme dat op grootschalige manier gepropageerd wordt via de beruchte Madrassascholen. Indien Pakistan er niet in slaagt om dat probleem onder controle te krijgen, maakt het vredesproces op langere termijn geen enkele kans. De Europese Unie mag zich dan ook niet langer tevreden stellen met beloftes vanuit Pakistan, maar moet ook wel concrete daden verwachten.

 
  
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  James Elles (PPE-DE). – 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 The Economist 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 The Economist, 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.

 
  
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  Richard Howitt (PSE). – Madam President, the European Union’s positive role in dealing with any conflict in the world and our role in relation to Kashmir should be to support peace processes and to uphold international law. Our own Labour amendments to this report concentrated on advancing the withdrawal of troops on both sides, extending development aid, encouraging the practical involvement of the Kashmiri people themselves: balanced, constructive, diplomatic in our approach.

When I was in Kashmir in March at the same time as the Commissioner, I saw an AJK more open than ever before; the Indians willing to talk with the secessionists and both governments optimistic about their composite dialogue and when that bomb on a train from New Delhi to Lahore killed 68 people in February, the politics of blame was replaced by a mutual solidarity to defeat the terrorists who had planted it.

However, the support the Liberal Democrat rapporteur claims for her report this morning is possible only because at parliamentary committee level we defeated her proposals to cut off trade relations with one side, not the other; to provide economic aid on one side only; to overturn the UN resolution in favour of self-determination; and, most offensive of all, to score political points about the sixth worst earthquake in the history of humanity.

I note today the Liberal Democrat Amendment 58 to blame one side for preventing a plebiscite and the Conservative Amendment 5 to resist a plebiscite in the future. Labour and Socialist MEPs will oppose both.

In this report, I regret to say we have seen a rapporteur who claimed to uphold the principle of primum non nocere – do no harm – yet she has done only harm. I caution others in this debate and in our vote: do not speak today for India or for Pakistan; speak for Europe, for peace and for human rights and you will do a greater service for the people of Kashmir and for the honour of this Parliament.

 
  
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  Sajjad Karim (ALDE). – Madam President, I welcome the Commissioner’s comments. In October 2005 the catastrophic earthquake opened the eyes of the world to the desperate plight of the Kashmiri people. This tragedy offered India and Pakistan a window of opportunity to make peace out of disaster. It also gave the international community the prospect of engaging in a previously closed region.

The Council has stressed that India and Pakistan must find a durable settlement for Jammu and Kashmir which takes into account the wishes of all the people of Kashmir. This is a just and responsible approach and one which this House must follow if it is to contribute constructively to the Kashmir debate.

As Liberals, whose forefathers shaped the concept, my group’s passion must be self-determination, self-determination and self-determination. It is an absolute right enshrined by the UN and respected and protected by the European Union. It is a democratic process that as a House we have a duty to support.

The EU must support the positive ideas now coming forward – systems of self-governance, making borders irrelevant, and joint management across the Line of Control. It is not for us to take any options off the table. We must, however, insist that they are explored through full consultation with the Kashmiris and, if the conditions are right, we must support their desire to determine their destiny through a democratic plebiscite. With a history of human rights abuses, a sustainable solution is impossible without ending impunity and ensuring that human rights are the building blocks of peace. India and Pakistan are now both members of the UN Human Rights Council. With membership comes a responsibility to lead.

Women and children have born the brunt of the conflict and the earthquake. Women have been widowed and children left orphaned. All are struggling to rebuild their lives. The EU, through its trade and economic relations with both India and Pakistan, must protect the most vulnerable in the short term and secure their livelihoods in the long term. The greatest tragedy of the earthquake was the loss of a whole generation of Kashmiris. We must mourn their deaths. For those who remain, our core goals must be peace, justice and self-determination for the generation of Kashmiris to come.

 
  
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  Jean Lambert (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, I would agree with everything that my colleague, Mr Karim, has just said and, in particular, that self-determination is of crucial importance – even more so for peoples divided by history.

We would agree that the conditions for a plebiscite are not met at present, but they should not be set aside. Hence our Amendments 18 and 56, tabled with colleagues from ALDE Group, are of crucial importance for us.

This conflict in Kashmir has brought the world nearer to nuclear conflict than anything else since the 1960s. Therefore, it is hugely important to all of us in this House. Whether our countries have a historical involvement or not, the EU definitely has an interest. We welcome the confidence-building measures. The environment is of common concern to peoples on whatever side of the Line of Control, and can be a valuable peace-builder. We need the normalisation of relations at every level, grass-roots to political, and that softening of the border as an interim measure.

 
  
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  David Casa (PPE-DE). – Grazzi President. Matul is-snin, il-konflitt tal-Kashmir ħalla eluf ta' vittmi, eluf ta' nies imċaħda mill-familji tagħhom, u eluf oħrajn li kellhom iħallu pajjiżhom ħalli jfittxu ħajja aħjar x'imkien ieħor. Għalhekk, naħseb li lkoll naqblu li wasal iż-żmien li l-Unjoni Ewropea tagħmel l-almu tagħha biex tinstab soluzzjoni dejjiema u mingħajr vjolenza, soluzzjoni li tkun ta' benefiċċju għal kulħadd. Naħseb li lkoll naqblu li wara ħafna snin ta' inċertezza, ta' tixrid ta' demm u ta' promessi mhux imwettqa din mhix ħaġa faċli, anke jekk fuq livell uffiċjali jidher li hemm bażi għal kunsens. Irridu nassiguraw li dak li ġie maqbul s'issa ma jintilifx u li d-djalogu permanenti bejn l-Indja u l-Pakistan għandu jingħata l-appoġġ u l-assistenza kollha tagħna. Kemm l-Indja u kemm il-Pakistan għandu jkollhom id-disponibilità li jkomplu jibnu fuq il-miżuri ta' kunfidenza u li jibqgħu jħallu persuni jaqsmu l-linja ta' kotroll, pass li kien milqugħ tajjeb ħafna wara tant snin ta' diviżjoni. Jien ninsab ċert li l-Unjoni Ewropea se tagħti l-appoġġ kollu tagħha għal kull inizjattiva li tista' ġġib il-paċi anke jekk dan il-proċess jista' jdum ħafna u jimxi b'pass żgħir ħafna. Kif qalet il-Kummissarju, fuq bażi umanitarja rridu nassiguraw li persuni f'kampijiet tar-rifuġjati jingħataw l-għajnuna umanitarja kollha speċjalment wara t-terremot diżastruż li ħalla daqstant persuni fi stat iddisprat. L-għajnuna kollha għandha tiżdied u l-kampijiet li ilhom hemm għal tant żmien għandhom jingħataw xi forma ta' status uffiċjali. Nappella bil-qawwa kollha lill-awtoritajiet ta' l-Indja u tal-Pakistan sabiex jonoraw l-obbligi tagħhom u jagħtu lill-poplu tal-Kashmir, id-dinjità li jixraqlu. Dinjità li kull persuna fid-dinja għandha dritt għaliha. Fl-aħħar iżda mhux l-inqas irridu nieħdu azzjoni sabiex nipproteġu l-istorja unika ta' dan il-poplu. L-Indja, il-Pakistan u l-poplu Kashmiri għandhom iħarsu lejn dak li jgħaqqadhom. Hekk biss il-proċess ta' paċi jista' jkun suċċess. Fl-aħħar nett nirringrazzja lir-rapporteur għax-xogħol kollu tagħha biex dan ir-rapport seta' jkun suċċess.

 
  
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  Neena Gill (PSE). – Madam President, I wish to congratulate Baroness Nicholson on her work on what has already become one of the most talked-about reports initiated by this House.

When I led a delegation to Pakistan last December, this report was raised with us almost everywhere, and, having followed the progress of the report closely, I do not underestimate the challenges there have been in bringing the basic facts about these issues into the open. I am sure that, in time, it will become an authoritative report on the issue.

I, too, have visited one part of divided Kashmir and empathise with the plight of the Kashmiri people, especially following the tragic impact of the earthquake. This report has also brought out into the open for the first time the conditions prevailing, not only in Kashmir but also in the northern areas. Whilst in Pakistan, I met many people who expressed a strong desire for greater democracy and a greater voice. Therefore, I hope one outcome of this report will be more democracy and greater democratic structures, especially in Gilgit and Baltistan, in the near future.

One of the issues that has most divided the Members of this House has been the question of a plebiscite. However, I welcome the consensus that has now developed on this issue in the report, and it is important to remember that the UN resolution that called for a plebiscite to be held clearly stated that it should happen only when the conditions have been met. It is therefore unfortunate that the conditions under which this might happen have not been met so far.

Having chaired the Delegation for relations with the countries of South Asia and the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation, and now the Delegation for relations with India, I recognise that this issue has hindered proper development between neighbouring countries and the region as a whole. Therefore, I strongly welcome the confidence-building measures that both India and Pakistan have committed themselves to in the past few years. I urge them to continue along this track with soft borders and more trade, because this has already paid dividends as regards regional prosperity, and I sincerely hope it will eventually lead to improvements on all fronts for the people of Kashmir.

 
  
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  Elizabeth Lynne (ALDE). – Madam President, this report is about the present and future prospects for the Kashmiri people and we must not lose sight of that. This report is not about India and it is not about Pakistan. I am pleased that the report was amended substantially in committee. I have, however, sought to amend it further and many of the amendments tabled by my group – though not all – are the ones I hope you can vote for.

Amendment 18 calls for the Kashmiri people to exercise their right to self-determination through a plebiscite in the future. This, to my mind, is the bottom line. I believe all people should have a right to determine their own destiny. This is what the Kashmiri people have been calling for for many years. Sixty years ago the resolutions were passed by the UN and they still have not been brought into effect. How can we be so selective about which UN resolutions we adhere to? I would like us, however, to go further and for any plebiscite to have the three options: governed by India, governed by Pakistan or independence. Hence Amendment 57.

Another concern I have about this report, although it is now much better than it was, is that it seems to be concentrating a great deal on the shortcomings of the Pakistan Government within Pakistan, rather than taking a balanced approach relating to both India and Pakistan’s failures in Jammu and Kashmir generally.

Finally, we must build on the positive steps taken by both India and Pakistan and not undermine them. However, no solution can be achieved without the Kashmiri people having the final say themselves.

 
  
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  Bogusław Sonik (PPE-DE). – Pani Przewodnicząca! Kaszmir nieprzerwanie od 56 lat pozostaje jednym z najbardziej zapalnych punktów na mapie światowych organizacji zajmujących się ochroną praw człowieka. W dramatycznej sytuacji od wielu lat pozostaje ludność cywilna, praktycznie pozbawiona ochrony i pomocy ze strony społeczności międzynarodowej. Walki w Kaszmirze prowadzone są niemal bez przerwy. Organizacje praw człowieka podają, że od wybuchu powstania mudżahedinów w 1989 roku w Kaszmirze zginęło już ponad 30 tysięcy cywilów.

Kaszmir powinien stać się naszym wyrzutem sumienia, wszystkie kraje europejskich demokracji, które szczycą się tradycją dialogu i wolności, zwłaszcza w sferze wyznaniowej, zdają się nie zauważać lub lekceważyć dramat kaszmirskiej ludności cywilnej. Unia Europejska musi się zaangażować w krzewienie demokracji, używać wszelkich możliwych środków by wspierać jej rozwój, zwłaszcza na terenach, które od lat objęte są konfliktami zbrojnymi na tle religijnym czy rasowym.

Obecnie, w obliczu prowadzonych rozmów indyjsko-pakistańskich w sprawie Kaszmiru, które jednak, niestety, prawdopodobnie nie przyniosą sukcesu, konieczna jest bardziej zdecydowana wola zaangażowania się Unii Europejskiej po stronie ludności cywilnej w Kaszmirze. Tak jak Unia wspierała pomarańczową rewolucję, angażowała się w poparcie dla Aleksandra Milinkiewicza, przyznając mu nagrodę Sacharowa, tak samo powinna przyłączyć się do szerzenia procesu pokojowego w Azji.

Nie należy zapominać, że to właśnie Azja będzie w przyszłości największym partnerem gospodarczym Unii Europejskiej z racji zasobów naturalnych oraz siły roboczej. Lekceważenie konfliktów to przejaw ignorancji i lekkomyślności, na który w XXI wieku nie możemy sobie pozwolić, wiedząc że w trakcie ich trwania może być użyta broń masowego rażenia.

 
  
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  Inger Segelström (PSE). – Jag vill tacka alla för att det lyckades bli en acceptabel kompromiss till slut. Indien, Pakistan och Kashmir är ingen traditionell fråga för mig som svensk socialdemokrat och EU-parlamentariker, men mitt engagemang blir mycket starkt när jag läser det första utkastet och hör olika partiers företrädare från främst Storbritannien debattera.

Vår uppgift är inte att leva i det förgångna eller ta ställning för eller emot Indien och Pakistan. Vi har ett ansvar för vad som händer i Kashmir och när det gäller de mänskliga rättigheterna där. Vår uppgift som Europaparlamentsledamöter är att se om vi kan spela någon roll och sedan erbjuda vårt stöd och erfarenhet och på så sätt hjälpa till att lösa konflikten om Kashmir.

Det som pågår och pågått så länge är en skandal! Jag anser att två civiliserade länder som Indien och Pakistan borde kunna ta ett större gemensamt ansvar och utarbeta en tidsplan för konkreta resultat och naturligtvis hjälpas åt att bekämpa terrorismen. Om detta inte sker måste FN och EU ingripa mer på allvar än tidigare. EU:s strategi är att sätta press via avtal, stöd och kontakter. Jag hade önskat att vi skulle ha kommit längre och att vi hade varit beredda att stödja en folklomröstning, men jag inser att vi inte är där ännu.

Vad Kashmir vill måste vara vägledande för vårt framtida arbete och för alla som vill ta ansvar för regionen. Jag vill uppmana alla att tänka fred, inte prestige och historia utan nutid och framtid. Och som Jo Leinen sa: kunde Frankrike och Tyskland skapa fred i Europa och starta EU så är jag övertygad om att Indien och Pakistan kan klara frihet och fred i Kashmir.

 
  
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  Dalia Grybauskaitė, Member of the Commission. Madam President, the Commission would like to emphasise its belief that there are now renewed hopes that the Kashmiri issue can be brought closer to a solution.

Both sides have, we believe, sent out signals that appear to be more flexible now than in the past. Nevertheless, we would expect a slow and gradual process rather than quick results. But it is important – and this is where the rapporteur is very clear in her report – that the key to resolving this conflict is very much in the political aspirations of the people of both sides and of both countries.

The European Union will continue to support the reconciliation process between India and Pakistan and, for its part, the Commission is fully prepared to continue to provide assistance to the region through its different cooperation programmes and, in reply to Mr Elles, we have already decided on EUR 50 million for reconstruction work, which we think will take a few years. We have not had any additional claim from either government for additional resources, but we are open to discussing this in due course if such requests come.

This programme will also help restore economic development and good governance in the two countries. That is the main and fundamental condition to finding a sustainable solution to the situation in Kashmir.

 
  
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  Die Präsidentin. Die Aussprache ist geschlossen.

Die Abstimmung findet heute um 12.00 Uhr statt.

Schriftliche Erklärungen (Artikel 142)

 
  
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  David Martin (PSE), in writing. – Kashmir has suffered more than its fair share of tragedy, the most recent being the devastating earthquake. Sometimes out of tragedy comes hope, and so with the aftermath of the earthquake both India and Pakistan showed a desire to cooperate to improve the lives of the Kashmiri people. We must encourage all sides to continue with confidence measures and ‘softening’ the border. India must reduce the suffocating impact of its troops in Kashmir and Pakistan must continue to tackle terrorism. When the time is right the people of Kashmir must be given a voice in determining their future.

 
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