EU Envoys Meeting Kashmiri Leaders

Srinagar, May 13: A delegation of the European Union envoys Friday called on the separatist and pro-Indian leaders in Indian administered Kashmir and discussed the prevailing situation in the region, which has been witnessing turmoil.

EU Ambassador to India Daniele Smadja, Irish Ambassador Kenneth Thompson, Belgian Ambassador Pierre Vaesan, EU delegation’s First Secretary Philipp Gross and delegation attache Anne Vaugier-Chatterjee arrived in Kashmir yesterday to hold interaction with separatist and pro-Indian leaders.

The visiting envoys met senior separatist leader and former militant commander Yasin Malik at his Maisuma residence in Srinagar.

The separatist leader told EU delegation that Kashmiris had made the transition from violent to non-violence since 2008 and the international community was morally bound to play a role in resolving the Kashmir conflict.

“Kashmir’s land, which comprises one-third of the total geographical area, has the largest military concentration in the world. The Indian army already occupying crores of kanals of land is now expanding its camps and barracks in Kashmir. It seems that in future there will be no land left for Kashmiris and, therefore, it becomes necessary to put an immediate end to this trend,” he said.

He said since EU enjoys friendly relations with both India and Pakistan, it should use its influence and ask both the countries to shun the cosmetic approach of the past and initiate a sincere dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue.

He demanded the inclusion of the Kashmiri people in the dialogue and decision-making process on the Kashmir issue. “Kashmir issue is not a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. Why are the two nations holding exclusive talks over it without including Kashmiris?” he asked.

The EU team also called on moderate separatist leader and cleric Mirwaiz Umar and discussed the prevailing situation in Kashmir.

The Kashmiri leader briefed them about the human rights violations and random arrests in Kashmir. “He urged the European Union to use its influence so that a solution can be found to the Kashmir issue through a meaningful and comprehensive dialogue process, which is in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of Kashmiris and also acceptable to the people of India and Pakistan. This was the only way to establish permanent peace and stability and start a new era of prosperity and development in south Asia,” Mirwaiz’s spokesman said.

The delegation also met Sajjad Lone, former separatist leader, who later unsuccessfully contested assembly elections in the region.

Sources said Sajjad briefed the delegation about the prevailing political situation in the state. He also briefed the delegation about his vision document “Achievable Nationhood.”

The EU envoys also called on pro-India Kashmiri woman political Mehbooba Mufti at her residence.

She told them that the time for ‘study or interaction’ exercises was over and Kashmir needed concrete steps for a holistic solution in which all influential quarters must extend a helping hand. “The political and economic problems of Kashmir have resulted in immense sufferings for the people and it is time for solid steps to initiate a resolution process that looks beyond firefighting or patchwork approach” she told the delegation.

Mehbooba said there was hardly any aspect of Kashmir that was unknown and any further delay in resolution effort even after numerous fact finding missions, discussions and conferences was prone to be viewed as delaying tactics by a population that suffers from a deep sense of deprivation and disempowerment.

She said the EU could help by extending its moral influence in this enterprise of peace and conflict resolution that could impact a large portion of humanity residing in South Asia.