India appears set to boycott a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meet in Pakistan after Islamabad reiterated it will not invite the speaker of the assembly of Jammu and Kashmir, which it described as a “disputed territory”.
“We will never invite the speaker of occupied Jammu and Kashmir Assembly," Sartaj Aziz, advisor to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs and National Security, told reporters on the margins of an event in Islamabad on Saturday.
The Pakistani Parliament too said the speaker of Jammu and Kashmir will not be invited to the conference because there are outstanding UN Security Council resolutions on the Kashmir issue.
India said on Friday that the 31 chapters of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) India Region will boycott the meet to be held in Islamabad from September 30 to October 8 if Pakistan does not invite the speaker of the Jammu and Kashmir assembly.
Aziz said Pakistan's “principled position” on the Kashmir issue will be compromised if the speaker of Jammu and Kashmir is invited to the conference. Jammu and Kashmir is a “disputed territory” and Pakistan does not “recognise and accept the said assembly as a legitimate one”, he added.
Indian High Commissioner TCA Raghavan said Pakistan has violated protocol by not inviting the speaker of Jammu and Kashmir. “In the past, Pakistan has invited delegations from Kashmir," he said.
Raghavan too said India will not attend the conference if Pakistan does not invite the speaker of Jammu and Kashmir.
More than 70% of the delegates invited to the CPA conference have confirmed their participation.
On Friday, an emergency meeting of the president of the central Indian chapter and the 31 state chapters of the CPA India Region called on the chairperson of “the CPA Executive Committee to use her good offices to immediately resolve the matter and ensure issue of invitation to the Jammu and Kashmir CPA Branch”, said a statement from the external affairs ministry spokesperson.
If Pakistan does not extend an invitation, the “India Chapters will boycott the event”, the spokesperson said.
The Indian chapters of CPA also “demanded that Pakistan should forfeit its right to host the conference and the venue should be shifted to another country”.
The CPA, India said, 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 external affairs ministry pointed out that the Jammu and Kashmir speaker was invited to the 3rd Asia and India Regional CPA Conference held in Islamabad in March 2007 and three delegates from the state had participated in the meet.
Read: Won't invite J-K speaker to CPU as it compromises position: Pak