The assembly in Pakistan’s most populous province should invite Indian writer Arundhati Roy to brief its members on the Kashmir issue as she has raised her voice against “Indian atrocities” in the state, a lawmaker has suggested.
Sheikh Allauddin, a legislator from the PML-N party that rules Punjab province and is also in power at the centre, made the suggestion on Thursday when the assembly was discussing the Kashmir issue.
Roy, who has often criticised the Indian government’s handling of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, has a large following in Pakistan. Her essays on various subjects, including Kashmir, have been prominently published in Pakistani newspapers such as Dawn.
Punjab’s labour and human resource minister Raja Ashfaq Sarwar appreciated Allauddin’s suggestion and drew the assembly’s attention to the “legal and diplomatic aspects” of inviting Roy to brief the legislators, the Dawn reported.
Sarwar said the Foreign Office might be approached and the next step should be taken in the light of the federal ministry’s advice.
The Punjab assembly also expressed “solidarity with the Kashmiris’ struggle for freedom from India”, the report said.
Ramesh Singh Arora, a Sikh legislator of the PML-N party, said India had “committed atrocities against the Kashmiris for demanding their right to franchise” and also accused Pakistan of “fomenting violence in Kashmir”.
“The propaganda against Pakistan must be checked,” Arora said.
He also described Indian defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s remarks against Pakistan as “regrettable” and demanded the Foreign Office should summon the Indian envoy to record a protest.
Legislators Farzana Nazeer, Farzana Butt and Waheed Gul of the PML-N and Saadia Suhail Rana of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf also criticised India for the violence in Kashmir and supported the “Kashmiris’ right to self-determination”.
Parliamentary secretary Rana Arshad told the assembly that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had formed a committee of parliamentarians to raise the Kashmir issue at international forums and expose the “violent face of Indian government to the world”.
Pakistan has repeatedly criticised India’s handling of the unrest that erupted in Kashmir following the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani. More than 70 people have died in the violence.
Angered by Islamabad’s description of Wani as a “Kashmiri leader”, India has accused Pakistan of inciting violence in the state and infiltrating terrorists across the Line of Control.
The war of words between the two countries took another turn after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said last month that Pakistan would have to answer for rights violations in Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.