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India will not participate in CPA conference if Kashmir speaker is not invited by Pakistan

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New Delhi: Triggering a fresh controversy, Pakistan again raised the Kashmir issue by refusing to invite the Jammu and Kashmir assembly speaker to a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference it is hoisting on the ground that the state is disputed territory, leading to India threatening to skip the meet, and demanding the venue be shifted to some other country.

picture from- economictimes.indiatimes.com
picture from- economictimes.indiatimes.com

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said on Friday that India will boycott the September 30 to October 8 conference if Jammu and Kashmir Speaker Kavinder Gupta is not invited.

She said Pakistan has invited the speakers of the other state assemblies for the nine-day conference but not the Jammu and Kashmir assembly speaker.

Addressing media persons, she said that at a meeting of the presiding officers of all state legislatures held on Friday, a decision was taken to boycott the Islamabad meeting.

“We have taken the decision that if Jammu and Kashmir speaker is not invited, then India will not participate. Either change the venue or India will not attend,” Mahajan said.

Though Pakistan has chosen not to invite the Jammu and Kashmir speaker this time, in March 2007, during the 3rd Asia and India Regional CPA Conference which was held in Islamabad, the Jammu and Kashmir Branch was invited by the Pakistan CPA Branch and three delegates from the state had participated.

The ministry of external affairs said that the “unilateral decision of Pakistan in not inviting Jammu & Kashmir CPA Branch to the 61st CPA Conference violates the provisions of the CPA Constitution, a fact which has been recognized by both CPA Secretariat and the chairperson of its Executive Committee. It also goes against the Commonwealth’s guiding principles of promotion of international understanding, world peace, and democratic governance”.

“It is well known that CPA is a membership organization which has constitutionally been bound for over a century now to invite all its member branches to the CPA Annual Conference so long as a branch is in good financial standing with the association,” it said.

Pakistan has over the past year been raising the Kashmir issue at international forum, and trying to push its agenda for a plebiscite in the state.The issue comes ahead of the August 23-24 National Security Advisory-level talks to be held in New Delhi, between India’s Ajit Doval and Pakistan’s Sartaj Aziz.

The twin terror strikes, in Punjab’s Gurdaspur, and in Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur, carried out by Pakistani militants has added to tension in bilateral ties.

Jammu and Kashmir Speaker Gupta said: “I want to thank them for the decision, Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. Pakistan is a terrorist country; Australia and Canada have supported our move,” he said.

Gupta also said that “Pakistan should be declared a terrorist country”.

“The boycott is a big message to the world community,” he added.

Ministry of external affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that an emergency meeting of the president of the union chapter as well as the 31 India Chapters of the CPA India Region was held in which they called on the CPA executive committee chairperson (Bangladesh parliament Speaker Shirin Chaudhry) to use her good offices to immediately resolve the matter and ensure issue of invitation to the Jammu & Kashmir CPA Branch, failing which the India Chapters will boycott the event.

“They have also demanded that Pakistan should forfeit its right to host the Conference and the venue should be shifted to another country.”

A press release by the Lok Sabha Secretariat also said Mahajan and the other presiding officers of Indian legislatures had sought Chaudhury’s intervention to ensure the Jammu and Kashmir speaker is invited, otherwise India will stay away.

The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Renewing the commitment to pluralism and inclusive democracy in the Commonwealth’ parliamentary delegations from more than 175 legislatures of 53 countries of the Commonwealth are scheduled to attend the conference. During their week-long stay in Islamabad, over 600 parliamentarians will discuss issues pertaining to legislative oversight, parliamentary strengthening, gender development, climate change and other issues of importance to the Commonwealth fraternity.

(IANS)

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India Continues Engaging With USA Over H-1B Passport Issue

India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

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As Trump proposes changes in H1-B visa, India continues to engage with US

India is continuing to engage with the US over the H-1B visa, largely availed of by Indian IT companies, after the Trump administration proposed changes to the programme, a senior official said on Thursday.

“It is a very important topic for us and that is the reason why we have time and again at various levels, we have taken up this matter with the US side,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to queries by journalists here.

Kumar said that most recently, the issue was raised during the first ever India-US 2+2 Ministerial Meeting held here last month that was attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.

On Wednesday, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to come out with its new proposal by January 2019.

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The DHS said it was also proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation.

The move to end the rule could have an impact on more than 70,000 H-4 visa holders, who have work permits.

The H-4 visas are issued by the USCIS to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the holders of H-1B visa.

The DHS said it will propose to revise the definition of speciality occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B programme.

It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages, the DHS said.

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President Donald Trump speaks about immigration alongside family members affected by crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, June 22, 2018, in Washington, VOA

In his remarks on Thursday, Kumar said that India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

Stating that there are certain bills which have been introduced, he, however, said that “it is important to note that none of these bills have been passed so far”.

“When we have engaged with the US, we have emphasised that our partnership which we have in the digital sphere have been mutually beneficial,” the spokesperson said.

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“We have highlighted the role which has been played by the highly skilled Indian professionals who have actually contributed to the growth and development of the US economy,” he stated.

“And also they have helped the US to maintain a competitive edge in the world towards innovation and science and technology.” (IANS)