India, Pakistan face-off in Male over Kashmir

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Male, Sep 1 A heated debate occurred between the representatives of India and Pakistan in the Maldivian parliament on Sunday after Pakistan tried to raise the issue of the abrogation of Article 370 during the 4th South Asian Speakers Summit on ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs).

The exchange of words took place between Pakistan’s Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Qasim Khan Suri, India’s Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh and Pakistan Senator Quratulain Marri.

Besides the trio, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla was also present at the event being held on Sunday and Monday.

As Pakistan’s Deputy Speaker Suri raised the Kashmir issue and alleged human rights violations following the revocation of its special status, India’s Deputy Chairman Singh got up and fiercely rebutted his claims.

Suri is a member of the core committee of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

“This point of order relates to the statement given here. We strongly object to the raising of the internal matter of India in this forum. We also reject the politicisation of this forum by raising this issue which is extraneous to theme of this summit,” Singh said, raising point of order.

Singh mentioned that “there is need for Pakistan to end cross-border terrorism and all kind of state support to the same in the interest of regional peace and stability.”

“Excellencies, terrorism is the biggest threat to the entire humanity today. Therefore, we should unanimously not allow any kind of written view to become part of the proceedings in this august gathering,” Singh said.

Responding to this, Pakistan Senator Quratulain Marri said: “SDG is for women and youth. Nothing can be achieved without human rights.”

She was, however, interrupted by Maldives Speaker and former President Mohammed Nasheed, known to be a friend of India.

Nasheed raised the point of order and did not allow the Pakistani Deputy Speaker to continue on a subject that was not part of the deliberations.

Amid continuous ruckus and repeated attempts by Nasheed to calm things down between India and Pakistan, Singh responded to Pakistan by saying “a country that perpetrated a genocide of its own people has no moral right to speak on the human rights issue.”

Apart from Singh and Birla, the four-member Indian delegation comprised Snehlata Shrivastava, Secretary-General at Lok Sabha, and Desh Deepak Verma, Secretary General at Rajya Sabha.

Other than India, speakers or presiding officers of parliament from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka constitute the South Asian Speakers’ Forum.

The above forum was conceptualised during the first South Asian Speaker’ Summit held in Dhaka in 2016 with India as a major proponent.

The second and third editions of the summit were respectively held in Indore and Colombo in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

During the event, the delegates will discuss what their parliaments have done to advance the work on the SDGs and the issues identified in the Colombo Declaration adopted by the South Asian Speakers in 2018.

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