The Indian government’s recent decision to appoint an interlocutor for Kashmir ought to be welcomed by the international community as another step to connect with Kashmiris, with the objective of bringing peace to the region, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) has said.
In an article written for EP Today, Petras Auštrevicius, Member of the European Parliament, further goes on to say that “sadly, but as expected, Pakistan and its political proxies in Jammu and Kashmir have rejected all interaction with the newly appointed interlocutor, leaving no doubt about their motives and intentions.”
He maintains that Pakistan is continuing to fuel violence and unrest in the Kashmir Valley, and under the circumstances says that the EU has watched with admiration the manner in which New Delhi has responded deftly to this complex challenge, “with tough action against militants targeting innocents, while continuing to engage with the Kashmiri people, who have also shown great tenacity in the face of this long war of attrition, sponsored from across the borders.”
Auštrevicius says the EU must focus on enhancing its cooperation with India in areas like foreign and security affairs, and supports its efforts to bring peace to Kashmir, while also boosting its exchanges in trade, education, culture and scientific research.
Referring to the recent visit to India of European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Auštrevicius says that he is pleased to see both the EU and India not only reiterating the strategic importance of their multi-faceted relations, but also agreeing to further expand areas of cooperation, so as to develop the political dimension of this relationship.
“As the world’s two largest democracies, the EU and India have a common responsibility to promote the cause of peace, the rule of law and human rights around the world. Further, in the current fraught international environment where terrorism has emerged as one of the key security challenges, the EU sees India as a nation committed to responding to this threat,” he says.
He further writes, “India has been battling the menace of terrorism long before it reached the European shores. Though terrorism in India came in through the back door from Pakistan, and continues to be sponsored from across the border, India has, for decades, been attempting to solve the problem diplomatically with its western neighbour.”
Criticizing Pakistan for making promises repeatedly to curb terror from its soil, Auštrevicius says, “Pakistan has not given up its flawed state policy of waging non-conventional war on its neighbours, through terror groups. While the US and NATO are only now waking up to the grave threats of such acts, India and Afghanistan have been the earliest victims.”
The EU, he says, places utmost importance on the protection of human rights, and has always supported such efforts, worldwide.
“However, the EU is also aware of the considerable evidence that exists, of assistance by the Pakistani State to militants operating in Kashmir by way of recruitment, funding, training, provision of weaponry and sanctuary,” he adds.
He praises the Indian government for providing development related funds liberally to its side of Kashmir (annual assistance of US dollar 17 billion), whereas in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, this is sadly lacking in all aspects.
He concludes his article by saying, “The compliance with human rights rules makes India a perfect partner for the European Union in the region, including the efforts to maintain the remarkable balance between fighting terrorism and keeping human rights compliance which is a challenge for democracies.”