August 2019 News

Congress Leader's Self-goal On J&K Seen Playing Into Pakistan's Hands

7 August 2019
Live Mint
Elizabeth Roche

New Delhi: Amid a heated debate on Article 370 on the last day of the Lok Sabha session on Tuesday, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, scored a self-goal. Seeking a clarification from the government on whether Kashmir was an internal matter for India, Chowdhury not only embarrassed his party, he may even have given Pakistan a handle to take on India. Chowdhury made his observations after home minister Amit Shah introduced the bill revoking the special status for J&K, and bifurcating the state into two Union territories. The move was cleared by the Rajya Sabha on Monday. Chowdhury in his remarks demanded to know the government's position on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), while referring to a 1994 resolution by the Lok Sabha, which states that the entire Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India. 'Our question is how can this be considered as an internal matter? Some days ago, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar spoke to (US secretary of state Mike) Pompeo and then too it was said that this was a bilateral issue. We need to resolve this. You will have to clarify on this. Whether it is internal, bilateral and whether you can do it on your own or not,' he added. Shah in his response urged Chowdhury not to make 'general statements'. The Congress leader then sought clarification on how the UN was monitoring Kashmir if the region was an internal issue. 'I don't think you are thinking about PoK, you violated all rules and converted a state into a Union territory overnight,' he added. In response, Shah slammed Chowdhury. 'Kashmir is an integral part of India, there is no doubt over it. When I talk about Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Aksai Chin are included in it,' Shah said. Chowdhury's comments could play right into the hands of Pakistan that has protested the move to integrate Kashmir into India. Islamabad on Monday summoned the Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria to register a strong protest. According to PTI, Pakistan on Tuesday held a joint session of its Parliament to discuss its future course of action. According to other reports, Pakistan has called for a special meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to discuss the matter. Chowdhury later clarified: 'Kashmir is an internal matter. It is the Congress party which has made it possible for Kashmir to be an integral part of India. Now that Jammu and Kashmir has been divided what will be the status of PoK? I also sought a clarification on that.' The Lok Sabha adjourned sine die on Tuesday after approving the bill that seeks the reorganization of J&K and passing a resolution recommending the public notification of the Presidential order revoking Article 370.