European Parliament member Bernhard Zimniok, who represents the German far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and is one of the 23 MEPs visiting Srinagar, Tuesday said “if Pakistan and India make a new attempt to normalise their relations, I believe that the European community should, if desired, act as an honest broker and mediator”.
In the group that met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval Monday — 23 of the 27 MEPs flew to the Valley Tuesday — Zimniok told The Indian Express: “PM Modi and I mainly talked about the conflict in Kashmir, but about the relationship between the EU and India as well.”
“The conflict that has existed for decades has claimed many thousands of lives and also ties up financial resources that are otherwise lacking in economic development. In addition, dangerous terrorist groups have emerged in the region for the international community, including Europe. Terror is the new hostage of humanity and must be fought by all states. Terror is also a big threat to Europe,” he said.
“Now, if Pakistan and India make a new attempt to normalise their relations, I believe that the European community should, if desired, act as an honest broker and mediator. Under no circumstances should we take sides, as this would be counterproductive for any rapprochement process,” he said.
A “negative example of this,” he said, is “Germany’s role in the Middle East conflict, which is never considered being an honest mediator by the Arab side in resolving the Middle East conflict because of its close proximity to Israel.”
“Should India and Pakistan also seek a solution to the deadlock, I and my colleagues from the AfD, who I was travelling with, will promote and deploy for it. If both sides are keen in incorporating us a neutral mediator, we must not stand aside,” he said.
His comments on mediation come close on the heels of repeated offers by US President Donald Trump’s to mediate, should India and Pakistan want, in Jammu and Kashmir. India has always maintained that there is no scope for third-party involvement, and Prime Minister Modi had said ahead of his meeting with Trump in August this year, on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in Biarritz, that “all issues with Pakistan are bilateral” and India does not bother any other country about them.
On the organisers of the trip of the MEP delegation, Zimniok said: “Invitation and sponsoring has been made by the International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies, the organisation of the mission was mainly done by Mr Henri Malosse, former president of the European Economic and Social Committee and Mrs Madi Sharma, EESC member.” He said the MEPs should be given the opportunity to be informed about the current situation in Kashmir.
As reported by The Indian Express, the International Institute For Non-Aligned Studies in Safdarjung Enclave in New Delhi is a little-known organisation. Its website describes it as an international organisation founded on September 19, 1980. “It was established to project and highlight the convictions of the peoples of the non-aligned world. IINS has provided a platform to voice the viewpoint of billions of people of the third world,” it said.
Henri Malosse (65) is a French business representative and the 30th President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) (April 2013 – October 2015). He wrote an article defending the abrogation of Article 370 in the European Parliament’s monthly magazine, and slammed Pakistan for terrorist activities.
His August 26 article, titled ‘The EU’s common ground with India’s Narendra Modi’, stated: “Since Narendra Modi’s democratic rise to power as the leader of the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party BJP party in 2014, EU-India relations have widened even further.”
“Faced with increasing jihadist terrorists and state sponsored terrorism from its Pakistani neighbour in an attempt to destabilise not only India, but also the South Asia region, the Indian Prime Minister is the victim of constant press campaigns and defamation that try to depict him as anti-Islamic. In actuality, he is concerned with protecting Hindus, Muslims and Christians living in his own country, and beyond, by controlling terrorism and access to resources and targets which the terrorists are identifying.”
“Whilst some western press chooses to condemn the actions Prime Minister Modi has taken to protect his country in the recent Article 370 constitutional change regarding Kashmir, they should reflect on European leaders’ recent approval of the Spanish government’s decision to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy, in a context much less dangerous than Modi’s proposal.”
“It is, in fact, Pakistan, a country which the EU has granted favoured trading partner status to, with its Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) program, which the EU should have concerns about. Pakistan remains on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) watch list, an inter-governmental organization that monitors money laundering and terrorist financing. It retains strong relations with Saudi Arabia, who are financing its madrassas, and the Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith traditions of Islam, which are similar to Salafi or Wahabi Islam practised in Saudi Arabia. It is these links that ensure Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy law is still broadly, and alarmingly, imposed. It is through these laws that the young Christian, Asia Bibi, had been sentenced to death for simply drinking out of the same well as other Muslims,” Malosse wrote.
His associate Madi Sharma’s name figured in emails shared by British MEP Chris Davies who claimed Tuesday that an invitation to be part of the EU delegation currently in Kashmir was withdrawn after he demanded to speak with local people without a police escort.
Sharma, who sent email invitations to the MEPs including Davies, said she ran an NGO called WESTT (Women’s Economic and Social Think Tank). In her Twitter bio, she describes herself as an “international business broker”.
Her email read, “I am organising a prestigious VIP meeting with the Prime Minister of India, His Excellency Narendra Modi and it is my privilege to offer this invitation to you. As you will be aware Prime Minister Modi had a landslide victory in the recent elections in India and is planning to continue on his path of growth and development for India the country and its people. In that respect, he would like to meet influential decision makers from the European Union.” She said that they will be taken to Kashmir and the cost of flights and accommodation will be covered by IINS.
The European Union’s mission in Delhi has already distanced itself from the visit, saying these European lawmakers were travelling in their “personal capacity” and were not in India as an official EU delegation.