NEW DELHI: Upping the ante against Pakistan’s unilateral move to not invite the Speaker of Jammu and Kashmir assembly to a Parliamentary Union meeting in Islamabad next month, India has decided to boycott it if the neighbouring country does not changes its decision.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Friday called an emergency meeting of speakers and chairmen of all the legislative bodies in India to discuss the issue of participation in wake of Pakistan’s denial of invite to J&K, even as all other state assembly speakers have been invited for meeting scheduled to take place between September 30 to October 8.
"A meeting of Speakers of all states here today unanimously decided that India will boycott the meeting of the CPU if the Speaker of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly is not invited," Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said.
The current standoff comes in wake of heightened tensions between the two neighbours in wake of terrorist attacks by Pakistani nationals which had resulted in number of causalities on the Indian side.
The meeting that took place in Parliament here passed a resolution condemning the “unilateral decision” of Pakistan for not inviting Jammu & Kashmir to the 61st Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference. The resolution said the neighbouring country has violated the provisions of CPA Constitution by keeping one of the Indian states out.
The resolution said the highest body of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association should take action against Pakistan and even shift the venue to some other country as Pakistan has gone against the spirit of the parliamentary meeting. The resolution said Pakistan had violated “the century old tradition of CPA (Commonwealth Parliamentary Association) which is a membership organization that has constitutionally been bound to invite all its member Branches to the CPA Annual Conference.
The ministry of External Affairs also reacted strongly to the Pakistan’s move. “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 MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup. He added that the move “also goes against the Commonwealth’s -guiding principles of promotion of international understanding, world peace and democratic governance.”
“Indeed, 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,” said Vikas Swarup.
Meanwhile, the resolution urdged upon Dr Shirin Chaudhury, Speaker of Bangladesh Parliament and Chairperson of the CPA Executive Committee to immediately resolve the matter, failing which India including the union and state branches would boycott conference in Islamabad.
Sources pointed out that the Lok Sabha speaker had already spoken to the Bangladesh speaker, who is chairing the CPA. Besides, some of the other major countries, like Australia, are said to be in favour of India’s position. India is of course, the largest country in the Commonwealth group.
Mahajan said Pakistan had expressed "constraint" in inviting Jammu and Kashmir Speaker citing an old rule which was "irrelevant" now as the state had participated in such a conference in 2007.
Lok Sabha Speaker argued, "It is wrong (on the part of Pakistan). They cited an old rule of 1951-57 regarding their having raised an issue in the UN Security Council for not inviting J and K Speaker."
"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 I and K Speaker is not invited then India will not attend the meeting or change the venue (for us to attend)," Mahajan added.
Jammu and Kashmir Speaker Ravindra Gupta who attended the meeting thanked all the Speakers saying it was a question of country’s unity and integrity. He called Pakistan a terrorist state.
Even as the India threatened boycott of the CPA meeting, preparations are still on for the meeting of the national security advisors in the second half of the month. Pakistan has however still not confirmed India’s dates for Aug 23-24. An indication of the intent was the repatriation of 16 Pakistani prisoners on Friday morning, which was an outcome of the meeting of the Indian and Pakistan Prime Ministers in Ufa, Russia on July 10.