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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 107

High level EU delegation on a low key visit to India

By M Rama Rao - Reporting for Asian Tribune

New Delhi, 06 January ( A high level delegation of the European Union on the Kashmir issue is here on a short 'low key' visit to meet a cross section of politicians particularly those active on the Kashmir scene.

Both moderate and hard-line factions of the Hurriyat have sent their top leaders to meet Elmar Brok, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations and James Elles Chairman All Party Group on Kashmir of the European Parliament.

But no meetings with the Indian political leadership are scheduled for the EU delegation. The government appears to treat the visit as a routine affair. This is in contrast to the 'red carpet' treatment Pakistan government gave Elmar Brok and James Elles when they were in Islamabad.

Highly placed sources said the situation in India and J&K is different from that in Pakistan and POK. "Ours is an open book. We have nothing to hide. Nor do we have any need, unlike in Pakistan, to orchestrate any campaign to impress visiting delegations, who are free to go anywhere and meet any one of their choice", remarked a senior official dealing with Kashmir issue."

The reference is to the heat and dust the 10- page Baroness Emma Nicholson report on Kashmir has generated in Pakistan. The report has been placed before the European parliament for adoption first by the foreign affairs committee and later on by the plenary session of European Parliament.

The brief to the Baroness, a vice chairperson of the foreign affairs committee was to write a report on a final solution to the Jammu and Kashmir problem. She visited Kashmir as well as Pakistan and India in June 2006. Her report has peeled to pieces Islamabad's handling of the situation in POK.

The critical nature of the report prompted Pakistan government to mount a diplomatic offensive with President Musharraf himself leading the charge from the front. He personally received Elmar Brok and James Elles at the President's House on Jan 2. While seeking a 'more active role' by the European Parliament in dispute resolution between Pakistan and India, Musharraf hoped it will adopt a "balanced and forward looking" report on Kashmir. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri told EU delegation Pakistan was disappointment with the draft report and has been 'irked' by what it sees as "unwarranted" Pakistan-bashing.
Pakistan's ambassador in Brussels Saeed Khalid has been in touch with Baroness Emma Nicholson and also highlighted the 'objectionables' in the report last week. She promptly wrote back defending the draft report.

Notably the report is in sharp contrast to the European Parliament's Adhoc Delegation Report adopted by the committee on foreign affairs in November 2004 and which accepted Kashmiris were a party to the dispute. It also brushes aside calls for a plebiscite on the final status of Jammu and Kashmir calling it "wholly out of step".

At the behest of Pak government several pro-Pak groups have sent several amendments to the resolution based on Emma Nicholson report on Kashmir. January 10 is the last date for submission of amendments. According to the present time table, the foreign affairs committee will hold discussions on the amendment proposals on January 24-25. It will adopt the final report on January 30. Plenary session of the European Parliament will discuss the report on March 27.

Indications are that the Pak campaign for a thorough overhaul of the report has met with no success as of now. In fact the targeting of Baroness Nicholson by the Pak diplomats has boomeranged on them, it is said.

Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the hardline Hurriyat leader is leading a three-member team of the breakaway faction of the Hurriyat Conference in the meeting with visiting EU delegation. Masarat Aalam and Ghulam Muhammad Gulzar are the other members of the delegation.

The moderate Hurriyats also have sent a three member delegation. They are former chairman of the alliance, Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat, Abdul Majeed Banday and advocate Nazeer Ahmad Baba. Dr. Mohammad Amin and Dr. Farooq Ahmad represented the Democratic Freedom Party at the meeting with the European delegation held at the Hyatt hotel.

- Asian Tribune -

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