It is a great honor for me to be able to speak in this gathering which has been organized to show solidarity to the suffering people of Kashmir. I am convinced my audience is full of experts on Kashmir issue, so I probably cannot say anything you would not know already. Instead of increasing your information I wish I could increase your hope. Kashmir is not forgotten. We are not going to let it happen. Why? Because as human kind we cannot afford ignoring basic rights of self determinance.
I speak as a former member of the European Parliament and an active human rights promoter.
Kashmir is still longest outstanding dispute pending on the agenda of the UN Security Council. The United Nations passed the very first resolution on April 21, 1948 which gave the right to self-determination to the people of Jammu & Kashmir. This resolution was jointly sponsored by the major world powers, including the United States, Great Britain and France. Never really since 1947 have the people given up the wish of self determination.
The Kashmir problem was in many ways created by one of our members in the EU. When the British left India in 1947, they left without defining the future of Kashmir. Because of this historical background Europe has a special responsibility to make sure that the Kashmiri people will get the right to have the promised referendum to define their own future.
The European Parliament has 28 member states with approximately 510 million inhabitants and we have 751 members of the European Parliament. I have served there for 15 years , also under the Foreign Affairs Committee, where I had a special responsibility in a sub committee that prepared and tabled urgent resolutions for the parliament.
My latest link to Kashmir was the resolution of the European Parliament on Afzal Guru’s execution that took place three years ago in February. It was my initiative to propose that resolution, and by doing that I wanted to bring Kashmir on the EU’s political agenda. I also insisted that the body of Afzal Guru must be returned to his wife and family. We knew well that Kashmir conflict is the longest ongoing conflict in history. The European Parliament should address the grave human rights violation in the area.
Of course I did not do it alone. I have great friends who kept on informing me on situation in Kashmir. I greatly value the work of Ali Shahnawaz Khan, doctor Ghulam Nabi Fai, Lars Rise and human rights organisations I co-operated with.
My message is simple. We need to get all sides talking to each other with full respect. My interest is not to tell the Kashmiris what they want, it is their own voice and their dialogue which must determine the future.
What is happening in Kashmir is not just accidental violation of human rights. It is part of an institutionalized policy of the Indian government. India continues to ‘legitimize’ its presence. At the same time India wants to become more of a super power, also on UN level and as the permanent member of the security council. We have to keep in mind that Kashmir is a pending question among the United Nation’s resolutions. India should not forget that. If India does not respect a resolution which was adopted almost 70 years ago, – how can India expect to become a permanent member?
Human rights are a world problem. They are not an internal matter. In addition to political, economic and cultural rights, we also have collective rights and that is the right to self-determination.
Instead of working to resolve the issue, both the governments of India and Pakistan have used the situation in Kashmir for political rhetoric, putting aside the rights and aspirations of the Kashmiris.
The self-determination of the people of Kashmir and international peace and security are inter-related. The denial of this right has brought both nuclear countries of India and Pakistan to the brink of nuclear catastrophe. It is in the interest of world peace that India and Pakistan need to resolve the Kashmir dispute to the satisfaction of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The final and durable settlement of the Kashmir dispute will undoubtedly guarantee peace and stability in the region of South Asia. It will also have a great impact on the international peace and security.
I thank for my friends who have not let me to forget Kashmir and I can assure that you will continue have my support.