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Does EU’s infamous Qatargate bribery scandal targeting Kashmir have Turkish and Pakistani roots?

The European Parliament (Photo: IANS)

The European Parliament’s Qatargate bribery scandal is now touching Indian shores. A number of websites in Europe have reported how various countries and individuals seem to be influencing the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) narrative in Europe.

In the latest, the South Asia Press run by exiled Pakistani journalist Taha Siddiqui says that with the latest revelations, Turkey and Pakistan have been linked to the Qatargate scandal through Turkish-British lawyer Hakan Camuz.

Camuz, who had filed cases in London against the Indian Army chief and the Home Minister for alleged war crimes in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in 2021 has admitted to funding an ex-Member of the European Parliament (MEP) who is under investigation for the Qatargate bribery scandal in Belgium and Italy.

Camuz had filed anti-India cases before the Metropolitan Police through his legal firm Stoke White based on investigations by Pakistani entity – Legal Forum for Oppressed Voices of Kashmir (LFOVK). The LFOVK is run by former Pakistani Judge, Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan and Advocate Nasir Qadri, says the report. Pakistani judge Chowhan has been advocating “lawfare” against India over J&K.

Pakistani Judge, Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan 

Some Europe-based news websites claim that Qadri has close links to Pakistani agency ISI, the radical party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). He is a frequent visitor to Turkey, one of the few European nations siding with Pakistan to orchestrate the Kashmir issue. Qadri had also started a hashtag on social media platforms asking for the arrest of the Indian Army chief.

The Turkish lawyer, who is based in London, is said to be close to Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family.

Greek website Directus quotes Camuz as saying: “Kashmiri Muslims have only international law to turn to after decades of seeking justice in their own country and only being subjected to further violence for doing so. This means Stoke White must begin the process of justice on their behalf, in a country that we understand respects the rule of law”.

Camuz now claims that his company signed contracts for “parliamentary services” and paid Euro 75,000 to a company Equality Consultancy. The firm, in turn, is linked to ex-MEP Antonio Panzeri and his assistant Francesco Giorgi. Panzeri, who is currently jailed, remains a focal point of the Qatargate bribery scandal that has rocked Europe’s conscience.

A Financial Times article also quoted Camuz saying that he had hired the discredited firm of Panzeri and Giorgi for “ethical lobbying services”, which he now claims were for “services” that included fixing meetings with MPs of the European Parliament, holding public events in Brussels, raising questions in the European parliament and getting EU funds for his charitable projects. Camuz has defended himself by saying that he was approached by Giorgi and he was keen to take up human rights campaigns on Syria and Yemen.

Panzeri is being investigated by various authorities for accepting payments from Qatar, Morocco and Mauritania between 2018 and 2022. Panzeri has reportedly admitted to have received up to Euro 2.6 million in payments from these three governments.

Panzeri was the chairperson of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights from January 2017 to July 2019 when the subcommittee took up the case of alleged human rights violations by India in J&K.

It is not just European MPS. Even British politicians have been feted by Doha, who have praised Qatar’s human rights record in the parliament.

The Qatargate investigations are of importance to India which is battling intense Pakistan-sponsored terrorism through infiltration of heavily-armed terrorists and drones carrying drugs and weapons to India.

Investigators are focusing on how countries like Qatar, Morocco and Mauritania are making attempts to influence the European Parliament by bribing MPs. The investigations are also linking the Pakistan-Turkey nexus against India where both Camuz and Panzeri have tried to damage India’s image and undermine Indian sovereignty.

Pakistan is known to fund anti-India lobbies across the world. As Abhinav Pandya, founder and CEO of the Usanas Foundation, and anti-terrorism expert says: “Kashmir has become a global industry for many. Pakistan has always been active on the global front to internationalise the Kashmir issue. It has cultivated and invested in lobbies in countries like the UK, the USA, Canada and Europe”.

Pandya says that Islamabad has pumped money in civil society organisations to raise the pitch against India. “There are lots of Islamist groups working as charities and welfare organisations who have good relations with Western governments. They have been peddling a Pakistani agenda on Kashmir. Qatargate is just one of such efforts by Pakistan”, says Pandya.

Also read: Canada, Australia govts’ advisories expose Pakistan as a hub of terrorism