The European Parliament has urged India and Pakistan to resume dialogue in pursuit of a peaceful solution in Kashmir, while urging for 'normalcy' in the region.
During a debate entitled 'Situation in Kashmir' at the European Union (EU) Parliament at Strasbourg in France on Tuesday, Finnish Minister for European Affairs Tytti Tuppurainen read out the official EU statement in relation to the Indian government's decision last month to revoke Article 370 and withdraw the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir.
"Regional cooperation in South Asia is now more essential than ever. And, we will continue to encourage India and Pakistan to resume dialogue and find a peaceful solution for their disputes," the minister said, speaking on behalf of the Vice-President of the European Commission.
"Tensions in the region have increased following the announcement by the Indian government on August 5 of the revocation of Article 370. This step has been accompanied by restrictions of fundamental rights and freedoms… It is crucial that freedom of movement and means of communication are fully restored as well as means to all essential services," she said.
The EU also expressed concern that additional troops have been deployed on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) by India and Pakistan.
"On both sides the issue of Kashmir resonates strongly with internal political dynamics...The EU position remains unchanged, which encourages India and Pakistan to seek a peaceful and political solution, respectful of the interests of the Kashmiri population on both sides of the Line of Control," Tuppurainen added.
The debate involved a series of interventions by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) speaking up on behalf of either India or Pakistan.
Indian-origin MEP Neena Gill made a vehement stand in favour of India's decision on Article 370, which she said would bring equal rights to all citizens of the region.
"Pakistan may talk the talk, but it does not walk the walk when it comes to human rights," said Gill, attacking what she termed as 'partiality' by some MEPs towards Pakistan.
"The fact is there are human rights violations in PoK and very many honourable colleagues look the other way. The solution to Kashmir will come when state-sponsored terrorism and global misinformation by Pakistan ends, then dialogue will follow," said the MEP, who is a Labour Party politician from the United Kingdom and represents the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.
Another MEP who spoke up in favour of India was Ryszard Czarnecki, a Polish Member of the Parliament representing the European Conservatives and Reformists Group.
"We should support India. India is the greatest democracy of the world. We need to look at terrorist acts that took place in India, Jammu and Kashmir. These terrorists didn't land from the Moon; they were coming from the neighbouring country," Czarnecki said.
On the other side, Pakistani-origin MEP Nosheena Mobarik from the Conservative Party in the UK and representing the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament, spoke out in favour of Pakistan.
"I am ashamed by the lack of resolution on Kashmir. India alone is responsible for revoking Article 370 and of the current bellicose and destructive situation in Kashmir," she said.
The EU said the debate, which took place as part of the ongoing plenary sessions of the Parliament this week, would not be followed by any official resolution.