Pak, Indian MPs Clash On Kashmir
3 June 2007
Lahore: A verbal duel between Indian and Pakistani parliamentarians broke out at a conference in Shimla of South Asian media persons on a draft declaration on Jammu and Kashmir with lawmakers of the host country strongly protesting move to involve people of Jammu and Kashmir, reports Indian media. After South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) Secretary General Imtiaz Alam read the draft of 'Shimla Declaration', Trinamool Congress MP Dinesh Trivedi objected to the wording that the meet welcomed current peace process between India and Pakistan with its objectives of exploration of all options for a final settlement of Kashmir issue agreeable to people of J and K, India and Pakistan. Trivedi said J and K was an integral part of India and there was no scope for involvement of third party in the issue. He was joined by Congress Party's K Keshava Rao and Ram Prakash. As Indian parliamentarians insisted on removing of the reference to people of J and K, Pakistani lawmaker Kashmala Tariq objected to it saying the draft has been prepared after discussion in a committee on Saturday. Pakistan's Leader of the Opposition Maulana Fazlur Rahman claimed the Kashmir issue was no more an internal problem of India but was an international issue. While the two sides stuck to their respective views on the subject, he said SAARC should have a 'neutral' opinion. As the tiff continued, some Bangladeshi members said the conference should not be used for solving bilateral issues. With the heat mounting on the issue, Alam announced the setting up of a sub-committee with five parliamentarians each from India and Pakistan to deliberate on the draft. Earlier, the delegates deliberated on regional cooperation, connectivity, security and setting up of a South Asian Parliament on the lines of European Parliament. More than 80 delegates participated in the conference. 'Both Parliament and media should reflect in all countries the aspirations of the people to live in peace and harmony,' Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, leader of Pakistan's Opposition alliance, Muttahida Majlis-E-Amal (MMA), said resolving the Kashmir dispute is integral to lasting peace between India and Pakistan, the group's two largest nations. 'The dialogue between India and Pakistan must continue but efforts must be made to find a permanent solution to the Kashmir problem. Unless this issue is resolved, the two countries can't enjoy trust and cordiality of good relations,' said Rehman. Lawmakers representing major political parties and presiding officers of Parliament or National Assembly from the eight member nations, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Maldives, Bhutan, India and Sri Lanka attended the conference. The conference was organised by the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA), a non- government initiative formed by independent journalists at the Islamabad conference in July, 2000. BJP representative participated on Sunday and they rejected the proposal of Pakistani delegation for making Kashmiris as a party to the dispute. Other Indian political parties also stood alongside BJP.