India, Pakistan in heated exchange over Kashmir at Maldives summit
Pakistani representative referred to the Kashmir issue after which a point of order was raised by India and a strong rebuttal was given by Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh.Updated: Sep 01, 2019 22:45 IST
The deputy chairman of India’s Rajya Sabha and the deputy speaker of Pakistan’s National Assembly were involved in a heated exchange on the situation in Kashmir while participating in the South Asian Speakers’ Summit in the Maldives on Sunday.
The exchange was triggered when Qasim Suri, the deputy speaker of Pakistan’s lower house of Parliament, commented during his speech that the “oppression” of the Kashmiri people cannot be ignored.
Suri said the world community cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the problems of the Kashmiris and that Pakistan’s Parliament stands with “all oppressed people”. He said the Kashmir issue should be settled in line with the UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
This prompted Harivansh Narayan Singh, the deputy chairman of India’s upper house of Parliament, to raise a point of order that was allowed by the Maldives Speaker Mohamed Nasheed.
Singh said: “We strongly object to the raising of internal matter of India in this forum. We also reject the politicalisation of this forum by raising issues which are extraneous to the theme of this summit.
“There is a need for Pakistan to end cross-border terrorism and all kinds of state support to the same in the interest of regional peace and stability.”
Singh described terrorism as the “biggest threat” to humanity and the world and said the gathering should unanimously decide not to allow Suri’s remarks to become part of the proceedings. He also pointed out Nasheed and Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) secretary general Martin Chungong had said the forum was meant only to discuss the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and strongly objected to Suri’s comments.
Quratulain Marri, a member of the Pakistani Senate, too raised a point of order and said the SGDs were also about human rights and again referred to “atrocities being meted out in Kashmir”.
Singh accused Pakistan of “genocide” that led to creation of a separate country and questioned Islamabad’s moral right to raise the Kashmir issue. Subsequent remarks by Singh and Marri were lost in the din as Nasheed and Chungong made efforts in vain to control the proceedings.
Tensions between India and Pakistan have spiked since New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5. Pakistan’s leadership has repeatedly sought to internationalise the changes in Kashmir, which India has described as a purely internal matter.
Senior lawmakers from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are participating in the two-day meeting in the Maldives that is focused on achieving the SDGs. The annual summit was jointly organised by the Maldives Parliament and the IPU.