Free trade between nations must go hand in hand with uncompromised respect of human rights and rule of law.
That was the message from Amjad Bashir MEP, who sounded the note of caution in the European Parliament during a debate on India.
The Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and The Humber said he wholeheartedly supported all efforts towards a fully-fledged trade agreement between EU and India – but it must not overlook key questions of freedom human rights.
Commenting in the legislature’s influential Foreign Affairs Committee on a report on EU-India relations, he said India had made significant steps in the last few years on human rights and individual freedoms; but the report rightly argued there were still valid concerns founded on caste-based discrimination, as well as poor treatment of minorities and religious and ethnic groups.
He also praised the report’s assessment of relations between India and Pakistan and said: “A rapprochement is not only needed to ensure lasting peace between these two great nations. We need it in order to foster lasting development and prosperity down to the last individual in that region.
“This includes Kashmir. The Indian-administered part of Kashmir is lagging considerably behind in all indexes of human development compared to the Pakistani part.
“Let’s be bold enough to acknowledge that the more the indigenous population are set free to pursue their right to happiness the better the prospects for everyone.”