India set to boycott Commonwealth Parliamentary Meet in Islamabad

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In the backdrop of recent terror attacks on the Indian soil by Pakistan, a new issue has threatened to cloud ties between the two neighbours. Pakistan has stirred another controversy by not inviting  Speaker of Jammu & Kashmir assembly to the 61st Commonwealth Parliamentary Union to be held in Islamabad from September 30-October 8, eliciting strong objections from India.

Registering India’s disappointment, the speakers of all other states who were invited, along with speaker of the Lok Sabha Ms. Sumitra Mahajan, decided unanimously that India would not attend the meet if the J&K speaker is not invited. “We (31 speakers) reviewed this issue and felt this was wrong. We reject this decision (of Pakistan). We are writing to the CPA chairperson that if J&K speaker is not invited then India will not attend the meeting or change the venue (for us to attend),” said Ms Mahajan.

Jammu and Kashmir Speaker Ravindra Gupta called Pakistan a “terrorist state” while thanking the speakers for their decision saying it was a question of unity and integrity of the country. When India asked Pakistan for a reason it gave an explanation citing an old rule of 1951-57 where they raised the issue at the UN Security Council (UNSC), which is no longer relevant, said Ms. Mahajan.

The speakers have demanded that Pakistan should forfeit its right to host the Conference and the venue should be shifted to another country.

The unresolved Kashmir dispute has been at the heart of troubled relations between India and Pakistan. By not inviting the speaker of Jammu and Kashmir assembly, Pakistan has sought to deliberately raise a non-issue and has violated the Commonwealth Parliamentary Union where all members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association have to be given an invitation.

“The unilateral decision of Pakistan in not inviting Jammu & Kashmir CPA Branch to the 61st CPA Conference violates the provisions of the CPA Constitution, a fact which has been recognized by both CPA Secretariat and the Chairperson of its Executive Committee,” said Vikas Swarup, the spokesperson of India’s external affairs ministry.

“It also goes against the Commonwealth’s guiding principles of promotion of international understanding, world peace and democratic governance,” he said.

New Delhi pointed out that CPA is a membership organization which has constitutionally been bound for over a century now to invite all its member Branches to the CPA Annual Conference so long as a Branch is in good financial standing with the Association. The spokesperson added that when the 3rd Asia and India Regional CPA Conference was held in Islamabad, Pakistan in March 2007, the Jammu & Kashmir Branch was invited by Pakistan CPA Branch and three delegates from J&K had participated in the Conference.

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