Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Sunday slammed Pakistan at the Asian Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Belgrade after it cited developments in Jammu and Kashmir for its inability to host the group's plenary, and said the country was attempting to politicise the forum by referring to an internal matter of India.
Tharoor took the floor at the Asian Parliamentary Assembly convened on the sidelines of the Inter-Parliamentary Union annual meet to deplore a letter from the chairman of the Pakistan Senate which blamed developments in Jammu and Kashmir for the country's inability to host the APA plenary scheduled for December 2019, sources said.
The senior Congress leader hit out at the chairman of the Pakistan Senate, saying he has referred to an internal matter of India to "unnecessarily politicise the APA".
"Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of the Indian Union. There is nothing in the situation in Jammu and Kashmir that in any way affects the living and working conditions in his country, let alone in Islamabad," the former minister of state for external affairs said.
"India's internal matters do not spill over its borders and do not impinge upon our neighbours," Tharoor said.
"In the circumstances, it is unfortunate and strange that he expects this August assembly to accept such a far-fetched excuse for his inability or unwillingness to host the APA plenary in December in 2019," the MP from Thiruvananthapuram said.
Pakistan has tried to raise the Kashmir issue at several multilateral meets, but India has thwarted its attempts.
A parliamentary delegation from India had thwarted Pakistan's attempt to raise the Kashmir issue at a UNICEF event in Sri Lanka last month, asserting that it was India's internal matter.
India had also scuttled an attempt by Pakistan to raise the Kashmir issue during the South Asian Speakers' Summit in the Maldives, saying Islamabad should put an end to all state support to terrorism, which is the "biggest threat" to humanity.
The Indian parliamentary delegation led by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla is in Belgrade to attend the 141st assembly of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) to be held in Serbia from October 13 to October 17.
The Indian Parliamentary delegation comprises MPs from across the party lines, including Tharoor, Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, Wansuk Syiem, Ram Kumar Verma and Sasmit Patra, the secretariat said.
Before the opening ceremony of the IPU meeting, Birla held two meetings on Sunday. He met President, IPU, Gabriela Cuevas Barron in which he briefed her about the working of Indian Parliamentary system at length.
"Shri Birla elucidated how the productivity of Parliament went up to 125 per cent in the last session of the Lok Sabha. He shared that for the first time in the Indian Parliamentary history, 35 Bills were passed in one single session," Lok Sabha Secretariat said in a statement about his meeting with Barron.
Birla also held a bilateral meeting with Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Speaker, Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad.
During the meeting, Birla mentioned that India shares age-old cultural and civilisational bonds with Bangladesh and invited Chaudhury to visit India and witness the working of Indian Parliament, and "also meet Indian women Parliamentarians and other young members of Parliament", the statement by the Lok Sabha secretariat said.