After Kashmir row, Pakistan refuses to host Commonwealth meet

The National Assembly (NA) on Thursday announced with regret its decision to pull back as the host of the 61st Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (CPC) as the “Indian demand to invite the speaker of the Occupied Jammu and Kashmir Assembly cannot be accepted”.

After Kashmir row, Pakistan refuses to host Commonwealth meetIt is unclear if the parliamentary conference is cancelled or will be held elsewhere.

He said Pakistan will raise the issue of Kashmir at every forum of the Commonwealth.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman Qazi Khalilullah was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying he expects India will allow national security advisor Sartaj Aziz to meet with the Kashmiri leaders during his visit to Delhi.

But an unfazed Pakistan said on Thursday that it would go ahead as planned with the talks with Kashmiri separatists when Aziz goes to New Delhi.

India had threatened to boycott the meet, scheduled here from Sept. 30 to Oct.8, if an invite was not extended to the Jammu and Kashmir assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta.

Pakistan has cancelled a conference of lawmakers from Commonwealth countries after a feud with India over Kashmir.

He said the Kashmir issue could not be overlooked at any cost and the assembly speaker would not be invited. “The decision to hold the event in Pakistan was made on the basis that the Kashmir Assembly Speaker would not be invited to the conference”, he said. On its part, Pakistan had agreed to host the conference when Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq was personally approached by the late Secretary General of the CPA Dr William F Shija. However, the Speaker said that at no point had the elected Parliament of Pakistan shown even a distant sign of flexibility on its principled and historic stand on Jammu and Kashmir.

Earlier, at an emergency meeting of Speakers and Chairmen of Legislative Bodies in India convened by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumita Mahajan, it was decided to convey to the CPA headquarters in London that the Pakistan CPA Branch forfeited its right to host the conference by not inviting the J&K Speaker.

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