India will boycott a Commonwealth parliamentary union meeting in Islamabad next month in protest against Pakistan not inviting the Speaker of Jammu and Kashmir assembly, a decision that comes in the midst of tensions over two terror attacks in Punjab and the Valley.
"A meeting of speakers of all states in New Delhi 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 told reporters after the meeting.
This follows Pakistan not sending an invitation to Jammu and Kashmir speaker to the inter-parliamentary meeting to be held from September 30 to October 8 in Islamabad while invitations have been sent to all the other speakers in India.
The decision of the speakers comes against the backdrop of simmering tensions between the two countries over the recent terror attacks in Gurdaspur in Punjab and near Udhampur in J&K by terrorists, perpetrated by terrorists who had infiltrated from Pakistan.
Mahajan said this was against a rule in the CPU in which all the speakers, who are members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, have to be extended an invitation to the CPU 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 the J&K speaker," she said adding it had lost relevance.
The Lok Sabha Speaker said Pakistan gave this reply when India took up the matter strongly with the CPA chairperson and secretary general against leaving out the Kashmir 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 J&K speaker is not invited then India will not attend the meeting or change the venue (for us to attend)," she said.
Welcoming the decision J&K Speaker Ravindra Gupta, who attended the meeting, thanked the speakers for the decision saying it was a question of unity and integrity of the country. He called Pakistan a terrorist state. Gupta said Pakistan has done this (not inviting J&K Speaker) "deliberately" and added that Friday's decision was a strong message to that country.
Mahajan made it clear that to ensure participation of the Speaker of Lok Sabha and those of Indian assemblies, the J&K Speaker will have to be invited or the venue should be changed to some other country.
She 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.
The meeting noted that since speakers of all the state assemblies are members of the 'India Region of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association ', it was wrong to single out the KashmiraAssembly and not invite its speaker.
Image: Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan