Given Pakistan’s over-obsession with Kashmir, its vociferous objection to India hosting a G-20 event in this Union Territory (UT) shouldn’t come as any surprise as it has been raising this issue at every forum irrespective of its relevance to the agenda under discussion. Even though its rhetoric goes unheard and at times even ends in embarrassment, Islamabad still refuses to accept the fact that its Kashmir narrative virtually has no takers.
Now that it has raised objections to New Delhi holding a G-20 event held in Kashmir, the obvious question that arises is whether Pakistan is in a position to prevent India from holding G-20-related events and the summit later this year? Even an amateur will tell you that the current situation and developments taking place across the border suggests a definite ‘No’ and the reason is simple. One, despite Islamabad’s claim of J&K being ‘disputed territory’, the UN and International community rightly accepts J&K is an integral part of India.
Two, Islamabad lacks diplomatic leverage to muster any worthwhile support for its Kashmir stance, or dissuade G-20 member nations from attending meetings in J&K. It failed to get the international community to force New Delhi to restore Article 370 and while Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) may issue some statements vaguely supporting Pakistan, all its members (except Pakistan) have maintained extremely cordial relations with India. UAE has even signed MoUs with the J & K Government for several infrastructural development projects running into millions of dollars.
Thirdly, a bankrupt Pakistan cannot use the financial grant or aid ‘carrot’ to beguile poor nations into toeing its line on this issue and creating a pressure group capable of forcing New Delhi to shift the venue of the G-20 events from Kashmir. Pakistan’s financial condition is so fragile that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has himself admitted that “Today, when we go to any friendly country or make a phone call, they think that we have come [to them] to beg for money.”
Lastly, the international community would be well aware of the miserable conditions in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) as videos of its desperate residents scrambling for rations and protesting against non-availability of essential commodities have gone viral on social media. In contrast, the absence of public protests and stone pelting by unruly mobs in Kashmir Valley is a clear indicator that the locals are happy and content with measures taken by the authorities to ensure their well-being.
Pakistan had been prognosing a doomsday scenario in J&K after Article 370 abrogation. While former Prime Minister Imran Khan predicted a “blood bath”, by saying that “Pakistan will exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps,” Pakistan’s Foreign Office hinted at the possibility of Islamabad considering military action. This veiled threat was reinforced by the then Pakistan army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa who announced that the Pakistan army would go to “any extent” to support separatist activities in Kashmir.
Hence, holding G-20 related events in J&K is a great opportunity for New Delhi to unambiguously reiterate once again that J&K is, and will always remain, an integral part of the Indian Union. It will facilitate showing the delegates that Kashmir Valley’s Muslim majority population takes immense pride in being Indians. This will expose Islamabad’s brazen lies that Kashmiris are being religiously persecuted and marginalised in the UT of J&K.
Holding G-20 events in Kashmir Valley will effectively debunk Pakistan’s false propaganda that its Muslim majority is impoverished because of institutionalised neglect and under siege due to a host of curbs and restrictions. By interacting with locals, G-20 delegates are able to get a first-hand account of the prevailing situation here for themselves, and perhaps this is why Islamabad is so nervous about G-20 events being hosted by J&K.
Under New Delhi’s chairmanship, 56 meetings of G-20 will be held across the entire length and breadth of the country from “Kashmir in the north to Kanyakumari in the south”, and will cover all 28 states of India. Being the world’s main platform for economic cooperation, G-20 has an extremely great responsibility in shaping and improving global governance and architecture on all major international economic challenges.
Hence, despite Islamabad’s frantic efforts, G-20 members will neither have the time or inclination to humour Pakistan by digressing from its hectic agenda by the Kashmir issue. In any case, since the UN has categorically decreed that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan which requires to be mutually resolved between the two without any external interference, Islamabad’s latest attempt to internationalise the Kashmir issue in the most puerile manner is bound to end in yet another humongous embarrassment!
The author is Editor Brighter Kashmir, Author, TV commentator, political analyst and columnist.
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