G-20 Kashmir Meet
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 02 Jul , 2022

A news item in the Hindustan Times of 25 June said that the MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) had selected the UT (Union Territory) of Jammu and Kashmir to be the venue for the high-profile G-20 for its annual meeting in 2023. It added that the Jammu and Kashmir government had constituted a five-member high-powered panel for overall coordination of the G-20 summit.

Keeping in view the importance of the world’s 20 developed/developing economies coming together to discuss the global economic, measures to bring about stability and a host of related matters. The Indian government is, understandably, preparing in the right earnest to play the host in a befitting manner.

Acting upon a communiqué from the Ministry of External Affairs dated June 4, 2022, the principal secretary to the J&K government, Manoj Kumar Dwivedi accorded sanction for the constitution of the five-member panel.

The G20 has no permanent secretariat. Agenda and the work coordination are completed by G-20 leaders’ representatives, known as Sherpas together with finance ministers and respective central bank governors. Preparations for holding such an important international event have to begin in good time and with all pre-requisites taken into the accent. Its importance is enhanced by the dire impact of the Covid on big and small economies. The organization is, thus, expected to take some effective steps to put the limping economies back on the rails.

The G20 was formed in 1999 and was originally a meeting of the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank to broaden the discussion of policies that are beneficial for resolving the global economic and financial crisis…The objectives of the G20 are (a) Policy coordination between its members to achieve global economic stability, and sustainable growth; (b) To promote financial regulations that reduce risks and prevent future financial crises; and (c) To create a new international financial architecture.

The member countries of the G-20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and the European Union. The G-20 summit brings together the world’s major economies.Pakistan is not a member of the G-20.

The news that India proposes to host the 2023 annual meeting of the G-20 in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir has come to Pakistan like a bolt from the blue. The Pakistan Foreign Ministry promptly issued a hostile and unsubstantiated statement rejecting the proposed venue of J&K for the 2023 G-20 meet.

Pakistan’s statement was not unexpected as it opposes India’s efforts to normalise the situation in Kashmir and uses any excuse to thwart any measure that indicates to stability and the improvement of the economic condition of the people of the region.

Pakistan has cautioned G-20 countries against accepting Delhi’s proposal for holding some of the meetings of the bloc’s next year’s summit in Indian part of Jammu and Kas­h­mir, saying it was India’s attempt to legitimise its illegal control of the disputed region”. A wholly unjustified and hackneyed claim.

India will assume the presidency of G-20 countries on November 1, 2022,as was decided in the 2020 meet in Riyadh. As the chairperson of the grouping, India would host the Leaders’ Summit, and ministerial and officials’ meetings. Civil society events would also be planned for this occasion. New Delhi had, as part of its preparations for next year’s event, sought proposals from all states and union territories, including the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, for venues for hosting G-20 meetings. This communication created a stir in Pakistan because if the Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir were to be picked as one of the venues then it would be the first time that the region would be hosting an international event since Delhi revoked its autonomous status in 2019.

Pak foreign ministry spokesman said, “Most ominously, India has been seeking to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory in flagrant violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions, international law, and the 4th Geneva Convention.”  Isn’t it the ‘pot calling the kettle black’?According to the census report for 1941, the percentage of Hindu and Sikh populations in West Pakistan was about 14.7 per cent and 28 per cent in East Pakistan (Bangladesh). According to Pakistani official statistics, the population of Hindus and Sikhs has fallen to 0.29 per cent by the year 2017. What happened to the 14.41 per cent population of Hindus and Sikhs? Killed, disappeared, exiled or converted is the simple answer. Is this in any way a demographic change?

Recently, China, the all-weather friend of Pakistan, has joined dissenting voice with Pakistan. The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has issued a self –contradicting statement in this behalf.India Today wrote:

“We have noted this latest development,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a media briefing on Thursday while replying to a question from the official media. He said that Kashmir issue is a dispute left from the past and should be addressed in accordance with the UN Charter, SC Resolutions and bilateral agreement.” We hope that he knows that India had lodged a complaint under the UN Charter in 1948 that there was an aggression on her territory. We hope he can recollect that the SC Resolution of 1948 established the armed incursion of Kashmir by Pakistan and demanded Pakistan to withdraw all of its fighting men from the original state of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan not only violated the SC Resolution but sent more regulars and reinforcement to the part of J&K it had illegally occupied. And the spokesman should bring to mind the Shimla Agreement of 1972 in which Pakistan agreed to eschew violence and find a non-violent solution of Kashmir issue. But then came the terrorist attack on Kashmir in 1990 from Pakistani jihadist state-non state actors, Mumbai attack, Pathankot attack, Uri attack and Pulwama attack. Did Pakistan stand by the bilateral agreement called Shimla Agreement?

Moreover, while China considers Kashmir a disputed region, how come she is sending men and material to Gilgit for the so-called “development of that region.” Does she have the right to build CPEC through the disputed territory without impunity and deny India the right to carry its normal administrative matters in the part of the State that has become an integral part of the Indian Union?

If China does not agree to the venue proposed by India, it is her governments decision to stand by its ‘all weather friend’ as expected and does not come as a surprise. India, too, is a sovereign state and it is her discretion how she defines the status of Tibet and Taiwan. Indian policy planners have very seriously discussed the matter and taken a decision with utmost care about its ramifications.

Chinese spokesperson argued that G-20 is an organization concerned with economic matters on global level and that “it should not be politicized”. If China has a conviction in economic development, she should not bring in a political angle to the issue. This is what is politicising the economic agenda of G-20. There could be one or two more countries like Turkey which may adopt a negative attitude to India hosting the G-20 in Kashmir. Turkey has been vocal in criticising India and it will be no surprise for India if she declines to participate. Why will India give any importance to those members whose agenda is politics not economics?

It has to be noted that nearly 100 meetings relevant to the G-20 will be held in different cities of India and the final one in New Delhi. Indian policy planners have taken into account all aspects of the event and it is determined to go ahead with its programme. Those who abstain for whatever reason, may do so with no regrets.

At the proposed G-20 conference in 2023 in Kashmir, India may, in all probability, approach some of the stronger and more active members to make large-scale investments in Kashmir in the sectors of tourism, and horticulture, medicinal herbs, and road connectivity.  A host of foreign investors have already committed crores of rupees for investment in J&K. We would suggest the Indian policy planners use this rare opportunity for placing before the organization a comprehensive plan of laying an overland rail and road connectivity between Kashmir – Central Asia- Eastern Europe to France. It will transform the economy of Kashmir and the entire region of North India.  Pakistan has to admit that Kashmir has become the ‘Albatross’ round its neck and does not know how to go beyond it.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

KN Pandita

Former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University.

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