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Kashmir report sparks heated debate in European Parliament

February 27, 2007 17:33 IST

The European Parliament in Brussels witnessed acrimonious exchanges between some of the pro-Pakistani members and the rapporteur of the report on Kashmir during the debate on the compromise amendments to the draft report.

"The report remains a patronising, insulting piece of work," said British Member of European Parliament Sajjad Karim, who is of Pakistani origin.

If adopted the report could do "potential damage to EU-Pakistan relations," he claimed during the debate on Monday evening.

When during the heated exchanges, Karim was accused of writing to the Pakistani diaspora to press for the amendments, he shouted "outrageous, outrageous."

The pro-Indian MEP Charles Tannock said he found the report "factually correct in content" and added, the report was open to compromise amendments.

Jo Linen, a German MEP, said, "We should provide an objective report" and noted that "it was on a good path."

On her part, Baroness Sarah Ludford, said she "still didn't think the balance was right."

"There is a hole in the middle of the report," she said, while another British MEP Richard Howitt even suggested to let the report "sit on the table" and halt the debate.

The pro-Pakistani MEPs are particularly agitated about one reference in the report which calls for a plebiscite on the final status of Jammu and Kashmir to be "wholly out of step", and they demanded that it be removed from the report.

Tannock replied that a resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council 58 years ago is a dead letter.

James Elles, co-founder of the All-Party Group on Kashmir, said the report was "unbalanced and biased" and called for the creation of a drafting committee to amend and prepare the report.

Most of the MEPs interested in the Kashmir report are British who have large Pakistani, Indian and Kashmiri communities in their constituencies back home.

The new chairman of the committee Jacek Saryusz-Wolski closed the 2-hour debate by urging compromise on the report.

"The final clearance is the democratic vote," said the Polish MEP.

Neutral observers are confident that the amended report will be adopted in March.

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