G20 Tourism Meeting in Srinagar and Pakistan’s Diplomatic Stand

The state that has long claimed to be the world’s greatest democracy has opted to determine the fate of the Kashmiri people unilaterally, defying international law, UN Security Council decisions, and bilateral agreements between India and Pakistan. Kashmir- the disputed area between two South Asian neighbors- carries enormous significance for both governments since the two have fought major wars over the disputed territory and lived in hatred for the remainder of their history from their inception.

“Wake up and smell the coffee,” said Indian Foreign Minister Jai Shankar, who maintains that India’s illegally held Jammu and Kashmir is a domestic subject that no one can discuss. In order to bolster its stance on Kashmir, India went so far as to host the G-20 conference in Srinagar. Last year, India assumed Presidency of G20- an economic cooperation bloc comprising of 19 countries and European Union. During the SCO summit in Goa, Bilawal Bhutto, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, expressed his country’s concerns regarding India’s unilateral actions in Kashmir, a territory recognized internationally as disputed. However, the Indian Foreign Minister dismissed the significance of Article 370, considering it a matter of the past and asserting that Pakistan has no relevance to Kashmir and the city of Srinagar.

Despite the concerns raised by Pakistan, the G20 Tourism Working Group meeting is scheduled to take place from May 22 to 24 in Srinagar. Pakistan has strongly criticized this decision, stating in a recent ministerial statement, “India’s irresponsible move is the latest in a series of self-serving measures to maintain its illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir, disregarding UN Security Council resolutions and violating international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter. Pakistan vehemently condemns these actions.” The statement further emphasized that Jammu and Kashmir remains an internationally recognized dispute that has been on the agenda of the UN Security Council for over seven decades.

While Pakistan’s internal political instability and economic vulnerabilities have drawn attention to domestic issues, India’s decision to hold the event in Srinagar demonstrates its attempt to exert control over Kashmir and signals its interest in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. During the SCO summit, the Indian Foreign Minister remarked on the sidelines, stating, “The neighboring country (Pakistan) should answer when they will vacate the illegally occupied territories of Jammu and Kashmir’.” India’s actions raise concerns about its responsibility as a member of the international community, particularly given its aspirations and global positioning.

Despite Pakistan’s persistent calls for the international community to condemn India’s unilateral revocation of Article 370 and its actions in Kashmir, there has been a limited backlash against India, allowing it to continue its assertive and contested treatment of the region. These developments raise concerns about India’s adherence to international law and UN Security Council resolutions, thereby questioning the effectiveness of the United Nations as an organization dedicated to promoting peace and resolving disputes.

In recent developments, the upcoming G20 Tourism Working Group meeting in Srinagar has raised concerns for Pakistan regarding India’s intentions in the region. In response, Pakistan has used diplomatic channels to counter India’s move. Pakistan’s efforts seem to have had some success, as China,Turkey,Saudi Arabia and Egypt are reportedly not sending their delegates to the Srinagar meeting, according to official sources. Other countries, considering the sensitivity of the issue, are only sending their diplomats based in New Delhi to the event. However, there has been no official confirmation from the foreign office so far.

While the Indian government is attempting to project that all is well in the region, independent experts believe that the underlying issues pertaining to human right violation and denial of democratic rights of Kashmiris cannot be overlooked or brushed aside.

The Kashmir dispute remains an internationally recognized issue, with the United Nations Security Council actively engaged in its resolution for several decades. As the situation continues to evolve, it is essential for all parties involved to engage in meaningful dialogue and seek a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir conflict. The resolution of the Kashmir dispute requires a sincere commitment from both India and Pakistan to engage in dialogue, respect international law, and address the legitimate concerns of the Kashmiri people. Only through a peaceful and negotiated settlement can long-lasting stability and prosperity be achieved in the region.

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Center for International Strategic Studies AJK, King Abdullah Campus Chatter kalas Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir