EU Parliamentarians briefed by Kashmiri politicians on Empowering Grassroots Democracy.

European Union EU flags Kashmir

A conference entitled "Grassroot Democracy in Kashmir, A road towards Democratic Empowerment" was organised by EPP political group on Monday at the European Parliament during the Gender equality week organised by the European institutions to empower women and girls mainly in conflict zones.

In this respect, Mrs Safina Baig was invited as a guest speaker from Kashmir to share her experience and speak about the successful steps that have been taken so far the last three years to establish peace ,security and development in Kashmir.

The debate was moderated by Manel Msalmi, the international affairs advisor who stressed the fact that Today we are fortunate to have political representatives from the region of Kashmiri who are here with us to explain this interesting facet about the Indian democracy.

Kashmir often figures in news for the ongoing conflict and its relevance to two Geo political regional powers, however, in the past 3 years, there have been some phenomenal changes made at the Grassroots level to effect and impact the lives of common citizens.

MEP Daniela Rondinelli opened the debate by welcoming the Kashmiri delegation and mentioning the efforts of youth and female leaders to establish peace and dialogue and to build a brighter future for the coming generations as well as the need to work closely with the EU to maintain peace and security in the region.

Mrs Safina Baig, chairperson of district development council in Kashmir highlighted that "Jammu and Kashmir, a region grappling with terrorism and conflict, for more than three decades, has seen the mobilization of a new political force through the emergence of a three-tiered system of local governance. Sadly, this major initiative aimed at empowering the local population has been long overshadowed by a perpetual conflict narrative. As a result, sincere efforts to facilitate accountable, effective, and transparent governance go unnoticed. The reason behind this enabling change is the young leadership that has been overwhelmingly supported by the public. This new leadership represents the aspirations of the common people to build positive peace through stable and meaningful democratic development. They face many challenging situations and engage with common people to find a democratic solution to their woes. We appreciate the interaction between parliamentarians from the European Union and India and hope that such an exchange of ideas will continue in the future - something that will be good for both democracies."

Mr Mir Junaid, a human rights activist in Kashmir also joined the conference and mentioned that "We are growing and we are coming together and standing up despite the threat of terror from across the border. What we seek is support from the world in our journey to stability. Our only enemy is terrorism and the world must not forget that terrorism anywhere is a threat to the whole humanity and must not be allowed to exist at any cost in any part of the world for peace and harmony to exist."

Members of Parliament Annalisa Tardino, Caterina Chinnici and Luisa Regimenti as well as Salvatore de Meo, member of EU delegation to India showed their commitment to supporting women's rights and youth leadership in Kashmir and congratulated the guest speakers for their huge efforts in maintaining peace and security in the region.

They said that they understand that progressive ideas and people's representation can be the game changer in Kashmir and that they are happy to note that a definite road map has been built to give shape to the aspirations of the people of Kashmir and align it with the development story of rest of India.

The conference was followed by a debate with the presence of the Indian diaspora in Belgium as well as the European young leaders who asked so many questions to the speaker and were happy to learn about the story of Kashmir and about young people there.