India may skip CPA meet in Islamabad

Failure to invite J&K Speaker angers New Delhi

India may skip CPA meet in Islamabad

India on Friday decided to boycott the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) conference from September 30 to October 8 in Islamabad if Pakistan does not extend the invitation to the Speaker of the Jammu & Kashmir Assembly.

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and presiding officers of the respective state Legislative Assemblies and Councils across India have already received an invitation to take part in the conclave.

But Ravindra Gupta, Speaker of the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) Assembly, was dropped from the list of invitees.

Islamabad’s move is apparently intended to underline its position that J&K is a disputed territory.
Islamabad’s bid to use the conference to underscore its position on J&K has come at a time when tension between India and Pakistan has escalated.

“It has been unanimously decided that India will boycott the meeting of the CPA if the Speaker of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly is not invited,” Mahajan told journalists, after she chaired a meeting of the presiding officers of the Legislative Assemblies and Councils of all the states.

Gupta also attended the emergency meeting.

“It is wrong (on the part of Pakistan). They cited an old rule of 1951-57 regarding their having raised an issue in the United Nations Security Council for not inviting J&K Speaker,” said Mahajan.

She added that Pakistan’s argument had lost relevance. “We reviewed this issue and felt this was wrong. We reject this decision. We are writing to the CPA chairperson that if J&K Speaker is not invited, then India will not attend the meeting.”

The CPA India Chapter also demanded that Pakistan forfeit its right to host the conference and the venue should be shifted to another country.

It was also decided to urge the chairperson of the association’s Executive Committee “to use her good offices to immediately resolve the matter and ensure issue of invitation” to the J&K Speaker.
Contrary precedent

New Delhi also pointed out that when the third Asia and India Regional CPA Conference was held in Islamabad in March 2007, the J&K Branch was invited and three delegates from the state had participated in the meeting.

Speaker of Bangladesh Parliament and current chairperson of the CPA, Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, has already taken up the issue with the Pakistan chapter of CPA.

The CPA Pakistan Chapter is understood to have conveyed to her that it dropped the J&K branch of India Chapter from the list of invitees as Kashmir is a disputed territory.

The CPA was founded in 1911 as the Empire Parliamentary Association, but was rechristened in 1948, as a forum for interactions between parliaments and legislatures of former colonies of United Kingdom.

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