A cross-party group of MEPs, led by Trade Chief, Sajjad Karim, have today called for an end of hostilities over Kashmir.

In a letter addressed to Prime Ministers Narendra Modi & Imran Khan, as well as the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini and European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, Dr Karim and the group called for an end to the recent escalation of violence over the Line of Control in Kashmir.

The letter which noted “grave concern with the ongoing hostilities” between India and Pakistan, calling for both countries to “enter dialogue for immediate cessation”, was signed by a large group of MEPs from multiple countries and political groups, including the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Estonia, Romania and Bulgaria.

The list contains some of the Parliament’s most influential Members, including two Vice Presidents, Heidi Hautala and Fabio Castaldo; Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, the longest-serving United Nations civilian officer in the 1990 Balkan Wars; Jean Lambert, Chair of the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with South Asia and Christofer Fjellner, the International Trade Committee’s Rapporteur for GSP+.

The group both deplored the Pushwana attack and welcomed the voluntary repatriation to India of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman by Pakistan.

Speaking from Brussels, Mr Karim said:-

“After the recent escalation of violence in Kashmir between India and Pakistan, I was disappointed to see the EU’s response to this very important issue.

“This is why I, along with my colleagues, sent the letter to Prime Ministers Modi & Khan and High Representative Mogherini, calling on them to enter dialogue for an immediate end to the hostilities.

“I also believe that no long term solution is possible without the participation of the people of Kashmir in any dialogue. The EU is uniquely placed to assist on this matter and should work towards this end, and stand ready to help should the right conditions emerge.

“The ongoing and deteriorating human rights situation on the ground is increasingly being felt with discomfort by the international community.”

Mr Karim – who Chairs the Parliament’s Trade Monitoring Committee for South Asia – has been a prominent voice on the issue over the years, co-hosting an annual conference – Kashmir-EU Week – in conjunction with the Kashmir Council-EU, a Brussels based NGO, which aims to raise awareness of the subject each year.

He was also the Parliamentary rapporteur for the EU-India Free Trade Agreement in 2006 and 2009, where specific clauses were added, which stressed that human rights and democracy clauses were an essential part of a Free Trade Agreement, expressing concern specifically for the current human rights and security situation in IAK.