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Howitt on mission to redraft Kashmir report

Haroon Mirani

Srinagar Feb 22, 2007 (Kashmir Newz Desk):

European Parliament Member and spokesman of British Labour Party Richard Howitt has arrived in Srinagar on a mission, which is seen as a precursor to rewriting of Kashmir Draft by Baroness Emma Nicholson.

Nicholson who is chairperson of European Parliament's foreign relations committee and a Liberal Democrat MEP had compiled a report on Kashmir, wherein she had heavily criticised the Pakistan government for its conduct in the Pakistan administered Kashmir.

She had praised Indian government on various fronts in Kashmir and at the same time condemned the acute human rights violations in Pakistan administered Kashmir.

The report had triggered controversy in Europe, where dozens of Pakistani and Kashmiri lobbies pitched to get this report abandoned.

They termed the report as highly uneven. About 450 amendments were proposed in the report. And it is for getting evidence on account of these amendments that Howitt is on a visit to Kashmir.

Howitt arrived in Srinagar on his two day visit today. He met a large number of people from various cross sections of life to get their opinion about the ground situation in Kashmir.

Howit had a busy time with a number of invites today many of whom cited the recent fake encounters revelations in Kashmir as proof of detoriorated ground situation in Kashmir.

Of the groups Howitt met today included Action Aid India, Aga Khan Foundation, Save The Children, Jammu Kashmir Yateem Trust, Helpage India, Voluntary Health Association of India and Maqbool National Welfare Association (MNWA). Besides prior to this Howitt also met Divisional Commissioner Basharat Ahmad Dar and Inspector General of Police Sahai. The kins of those persons who were killed by militants during the last 17 years on various charges also had a meeting with Howitt.

Howitt told the delagtions that he is in Kashmir for not just a cursory visit rather he is here to see by himself what is happening at the ground level on almost every sector.

He also wanted to have a feel as to post peace process has anything really benefited the common people. Howitt said that Europeans want to come clean on Kashmir issue and say what actually is happening on ground.

Howitt is leaving tomorrow for winter capital Jammu, where he is expected to meet with the leaders and intellectuals. He is expected to get the aspirations of the people of Jammu so as to make his report unbiased and even poised.

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