In a significant development, the sub-committee on Human Rights of European Parliament hosted an official exchange of views on situation of human rights in Kashmir at the European Parliament on 19 February 2019. This was for the first time after 2007 that the issue of Kashmir was discussed publically at an official EU forum.

In his introductory remarks, the Chair of the Sub-Committee Mr. Panzeri reiterated EU’s commitment to uphold and protect human rights throughout the world. The EU, he said, had never shied away from discussing human rights, even when it involved complex political issues. He pointed out that the issue of Kashmir was the longest unresolved issue on the agenda of United Nations. EU believed that dialogue among nations was necessary to resolve such issues. He, however, pointed out that the event was focussed on human rights situation in Kashmir and the plight of Kashmiris.

The discussion focused on the June 2018 report of the United Nations’ Office of High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR)on Kashmir. Ms. Christine Chung, one of the authors of the report was especially invited for the occasion by the sub-committee. In her comments, she highlighted the dire human rights situation in the Indian-occupied Kashmir and reiterated the OHCHR’s recommendations for establishing a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive and independent international investigation of human rights violations in Kashmir.

Besides Prime Minister Azad Jammu and Kashmir Raja Farooq Haider, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Belgium, the European Union and Luxembourg Ms.Naghmana Alamgir Hashmi, the debate was attended by large number of Members of European Parliament (MEPs), representatives of human rights and civil society organizations, think tanks, diplomats from various countries and members of Kashmiri diaspora across Europe.TheMembers of European Parliament who attended the event includedMr. Wajid Khan, Ms Julie Ward, Baroness NosheenaMubarik, Mr Amjad Bashir,Mr. David Martin, Mr. Jordi Sole, Mr. Sion Simon, Ms Jean Lambert, Mr. Richard Corbett,Ms. Theresa Griffin and Mr. Jo Leinen.

Overwhelming majority of these members rallied behind the recommendations of the OHCHR report and called for their full implementation. They called on India to immediately put a halt to its atrocities in the Indian-held Kashmir and carry out investigations into the incidents of grave human rights violations. The MEPs also highlighted the need for peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue through dialogue between Pakistan and India, and with full participation of Kashmiri people.

The event is a huge diplomatic success for Pakistan as it is the first time in more than a decade that the EU has officially organized an event on Kashmir, where our concerns regarding India’s human rights violations in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir have been discussed. The public nature of the event also added to its value in generating awareness about the situation in the Indian-occupied Kashmir. The official nature of the event in one the most prestigious bodies of the European Parliament, the sub-committee on human rights, will also provide a solid ground for other EU institutions to raise the issue of Kashmir with the Indian government during their bilateral interactions.

MEP Wajid Khan speaking to media after official exchange of views on Human Rights Situation in  Kashmir organized by the Sub Committee on Human Rights of European Parliament in Brussels.