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Kashmir: present situation and future prospects

May 24, 2007 12:00 AM
By Liz Lynne

Madam President, this report is about the present and future prospects for the Kashmiri people and we must not lose sight of that. This report is not about India and it is not about Pakistan. I am pleased that the report was amended substantially in committee. I have, however, sought to amend it further and many of the amendments tabled by my group - though not all - are the ones I hope you can vote for.

Amendment 18 calls for the Kashmiri people to exercise their right to self-determination through a plebiscite in the future. This, to my mind, is the bottom line. I believe all people should have a right to determine their own destiny. This is what the Kashmiri people have been calling for for many years. Sixty years ago the resolutions were passed by the UN and they still have not been brought into effect. How can we be so selective about which UN resolutions we adhere to? I would like us, however, to go further and for any plebiscite to have the three options: governed by India, governed by Pakistan or independence. Hence Amendment 57.

Another concern I have about this report, although it is now much better than it was, is that it seems to be concentrating a great deal on the shortcomings of the Pakistan Government within Pakistan, rather than taking a balanced approach relating to both India and Pakistan's failures in Jammu and Kashmir generally.

Finally, we must build on the positive steps taken by both India and Pakistan and not undermine them. However, no solution can be achieved without the Kashmiri people having the final say themselves.