ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan has cancelled the Commonwealth parliamentary conference due to tensions with India over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, officials said on Thursday, days before the two nuclear-armed neighbours are due to meet.
The conference, to be held in the Pakistani capital on Sept. 30, has been cancelled because legislators from Indian-administered Kashmir have planned to attend, said parliamentary speaker Ayaz Sadiq.
India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars since independence in 1947 over Kashmir. Both claim full ownership of the region, but administer separate parts of it.
Pakistan “saw an opportunity to raise the Kashmir issue” by refusing to host the conference, Sadiq said.
“When it is clear that we have fought wars over this, brought resolutions in the United Nations, then how can we abandon our point of view (on Kashmir) now?” he said.
On Wednesday, the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi said it had scheduled a meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders for Aug. 23, the same day that India and Pakistan’s national security advisers are due to meet.
A year ago, India cancelled talks between the two nations’ foreign secretaries after a similar meeting with Kashmiri separatists.
Ties warmed slightly last month, after Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on the sidelines of a summit in Russia and agreed to resume high-level talks.
It is unclear if the parliamentary conference is cancelled or will be held elsewhere. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association links legislators in former British colonies.
Editing by Katharine Houreld and Ryan Woo