A day after India stalled Pakistan’s attempt to rake up the Kashmir issue at the South Asian Speakers’ Summit in the Maldives, the Male Declaration, adopted at the meeting on Monday, ignored all assertions made by Islamabad on the matter.
“The South Asian Speakers’ Summit, while adopting the Male Declaration, overlooked all assertions made by the Pakistani parliamentary delegation,” sources in the Lok Sabha Secretariat said. The summit “unanimously” felt Kashmir was India’s “internal matter”, they said.
Before finalising the declaration, speakers held a roundtable on Monday on the concluding day. All efforts of the Pakistan delegation to get even a passing reference to Kashmir issue finding a mention in the declaration drew a nought, said sources. Besides Kashmir, Pakistan’s reference to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) also could not find a place in Male Declaration, sources said.
The meeting, held in the Maldivian Parliament, Majlis, had witnessed a heated exchange between representatives of India and Pakistan. Qasim Suri, Deputy Speaker of the Pakistan National Assembly, tried to raise the Kashmir issue during a discussion on Sustainable Development Goals. India immediately raised a point of order and the presiding officer asked Suri to let the Indian representative, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh, speak. However, Suri did not yield, leading to a commotion.
Harivansh then hit out at Pakistan for raising India’s “internal matter” at the forum and criticised Islamabad for its “bid to politicise the multi-lateral forum”. Sources said that India’s position was prominently reflected in the declaration, which resolved to work collectively for the promotion of equality at work, equal remuneration and creation of jobs for youths. The declaration also accepted India’s views regarding food safety, nutrition and maternal, child and adolescent health in the Asia Pacific region.
On the sidelines of the summit, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla held bilateral talks with his Bhutanese counterpart Wangchuk Namgyel.
The Indian delegation also held detailed deliberations with the Parliamentary delegations from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka on matters of bilateral interest.