Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh attacked Pakistan powerfully after representatives of that country tried to drag Jammu and Kashmir on to the table of an international conference of presiding officers of elected Houses in the Maldives on Sunday.
Harivansh “strongly objected” to statements made by Qasim Khan Suri, Deputy Speaker of the Pakistani National Assembly, and also took on Senator Quratulain Marri.
In his address to the Fourth Pakistan raises J&K in Malé, Harivansh objects strongly South Asian Speakers’ Summit in the Maldivian capital Malé. Suri, who belongs to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, said: “We cannot ignore the situation of tortured Kashmiris. They have been dealing with terror and injustice.”
Harivansh immediately raised a point of order to say that commenting on the internal matters of any nation was a digression from the theme of the Summit, and should not be recorded in the proceedings.
“We strongly object to raising the internal matter of India here and we also reject the politicisation of this forum by raising issues which are extraneous to the theme of this Summit,” Harivansh said in a video released by a Maldivian television channel.
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“There is need for Pakistan to end cross-border terrorism and all kinds of state support to the same in the interest of regional peace and stability. Terrorism is the biggest threat for the entire humanity in the world today… this should not be part of proceedings,” Harivansh said.
The September 1-2 meeting has been convened to discuss ways for the countries in the region to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the global call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030, which all United Nations member states have adopted.
Speaking to The Indian Express from Malé, Harivansh said: “This meeting has been convened only on SDGs, there was nothing else on the agenda. But Pakistan wrongly raised Kashmir, so I protested very strongly.”
In reply to Harivansh, Senator Marri, who belongs to the Pakistan People’s Party, too raised a point of order and said: “SDGs — all of them, whether about women, youth, or environment — nothing can be achieved without human rights. If you don’t have people who will you implement SDGs for? Just land? The atrocities meted out to Kashmir are directly related intimately to SDGs.”
She was, however, cut short by Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically elected President of the Maldives, and currently the Speaker of the People’s Majlis.
At another point during the discussions, Harivansh said: “I would like to ask what moral rights this country has to raise issues related to human rights? The world knows how they committed genocide in a part of their own country, and that country is now a separate entity called Bangladesh. Since they have raised human rights issue of Kashmir, I would like to state the facts — that Pakistan has occupied our part of Kashmir known as Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. This Pakistan Occupied Kashmir comprises two areas, the so-called Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK), and Gilgit Baltistan (GB), which Pakistan illegally occupied through armed action in 1947.”
He continued his scathing attack on Islamabad: “Pakistan has kept people of this region guessing on their status. As a constitutional entity, the so-called ‘AJK’ is unique. It has been given the trappings of a country with a President, a Prime Minister and a Legislature of its own. But the so-called AJK is neither a country nor a province. The Karachi Agreement of April 28, 1949 truncated POJK and brought more than 85% of the land, strategically important for its connectivity with China and control of rivers, under Pakistan’s direct control.
“From the time of the Karachi Agreement, the so-called AJK President and Prime Minister have enjoyed only titular power, that too at the pleasure of the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs [later on the Ministry of Kashmir and Northern Areas (KANA), and subsequently the Ministry of Kashmir and GB].”
To this, Marri retorted angrily, using the well-worn line about Pakistan being a victim of terrorism itself: “I absolutely object to this. Pakistan is not a purveyor of terror, Pakistan is a victim of terror… We have more people in this war against terror than anyone else… How is India being allowed to talk about our internal matters? We have lost over 20,000 people in the war against terror.”
The Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman subsequently posted on Twitter: “It is very unfortunate that people are still making the mistake of distinguishing between good terrorists and bad terrorists. State sponsorship of terrorism is the biggest threat the world is facing today. Pakistan must stop this.
“Pakistan, a country that perpetrated a genocide of its own people has no moral right to speak.”
Pakistan’s Prime Minister and his colleagues in government have made a series of provocative statements ever since India’s Parliament removed the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan is likely to try to raise the issue at the UN General Assembly later this month.