It is imperative that the forum does not contribute to the sense of abandonment felt by the Kashmiri Muslims from the international community.
Amid India’s irresponsible decision to hold G20 summit in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, a weighty news item did not receive as much attention as it deserved. According to Ina Krishnamurti, Indonesia’s ambassador to India, Jakarta has yet to decide whether its delegation will attend the G20 summit in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) or not. Indonesia has historically been an ally of Pakistan. During the 1965 War, Indonesia's stance was markedly pro-Pakistan. Air Marshal Muhammad Asghar Khan (R) asserted in his book, The First Round that Sukarno, the then President of the Republic of Indonesia, treated India's war on Pakistan as an attack on Indonesia and said his government was duty-bound to support Islamabad in whatever way possible. However, Indonesia had maintained impartiality over the Kashmir issue in the past few years. Despite having closer economic ties with India over the past decade, Indonesia’s deliberation on attending the Jammu and Kashmir chapter of G20 summit highlights the diplomatic efforts of Pakistan to prevent New Delhi from hosting such events in IIOJK.
The G20 Summit is held annually with a rotating presidency, and during its presidency in 2023, India is deftly attempting to use this forum to achieve specific geopolitical and regional strategic goals by aiming to organize G20 meetings in IIOJK, which reflects an utter defiance of the United Nations Security Council (UNCS) resolutions and violation of the principles of the United Nations (UN) Charter. Pakistan has vehemently condemned India’s move to engineer a façade of normalcy in IIOJK.
The G20 or Group of 20 is an intergovernmental forum comprising 19 countries and the European Union (EU), which strives to address important global economic concerns like international financial stability, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and sustainable development. The G20 Summit is held annually with a rotating presidency, and during its presidency in 2023, India is deftly attempting to use this forum to achieve specific geopolitical and regional strategic goals by aiming to organize G20 meetings in IIOJK, which reflects an utter defiance of the United Nations Security Council (UNCS) resolutions and violation of the principles of the United Nations (UN) Charter. Pakistan has vehemently condemned India’s move to engineer a façade of normalcy in IIOJK.
India is hosting this international event in a UNSC mandated disputed region for the first time since the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi unilaterally abolished its special status in August 2019 and divided it into two federally controlled union territories. Despite India’s attempts to fake normalcy in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley, public anger with New Delhi is still rife. The region continues to be the most densely militarized zone on earth with the presence of over one million military and paramilitary personnel. There are continuous crackdowns against the Kashmiris on their right to protest and freedom of speech.
At least 35 Kashmiri journalists have suffered police interrogation, raids, threats, physical assault, or criminal cases since 2019 in connection with their work, according to the Human Rights Watch report of 2022. The space for media has drastically eroded since the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution.
Press restrictions in Kashmir are especially draconian. At least 35 Kashmiri journalists have suffered police interrogation, raids, threats, physical assault, or criminal cases since 2019 in connection with their work, according to the Human Rights Watch report of 2022. The space for media has drastically eroded since the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution. There is a widespread perception that newspapers have become mere extensions of the government’s public relations machinery. Award-winning journalists like Asif Sultan and Fahad Shah are undergoing incarceration on terrorism charges for performing their professional duties and are facing potential life imprisonment. Similar is the case with human rights activists, Khurram Parvez to name one. Kashmir’s Central Press Club remains forcibly closed by the Indian authorities in IIOJK. As if harassment, false incriminations and unlawful detentions are not enough, Kashmiri journalists and human rights activists are also being brazenly barred from travelling outside of India to attend events related to their sphere of duty. In 2019, independent journalist, Gowhar Geelani was stopped at New Delhi airport when he was on his way to Germany for a job. In 2021, two other Kashmiri journalists, Zahid Rafiq and Ruwa Shah, were barred from flying abroad. In 2022, Pulitzer-winning Kashmiri journalist, Sanna Irshad Mattoo was stopped from travelling to the United States by the immigration authorities at Delhi airport, and none of them was given any explanation by the despotic regime for the curtailment of their fundamental human rights.
China, which is a very important permanent member of the organization, has voiced opposition to India's proposal to convene the G20 summit in IIOJK and has urged the group's members to concentrate on the economic recovery rather than indulging themselves into controversial geopolitical issues.
Amnesty International, a renowned human rights watchdog, maintains that the Indian government has drastically increased repression in Jammu and Kashmir and has been employing illegal tactics and unfair barriers to restrict various rights there. According to Aakar Patel of Amnesty International India, the civil society and media in the region have been the targets of a vicious crackdown by the Indian government, which is determined to stifle dissent using draconian laws, policies, and unlawful practices in their arsenal. India is definitely exploiting the land of Kashmir to serve its self interest, but Kashmiris are nowhere in the scheme. They continue to endure siege, search operations, repression and restrictions. In addition, to consolidate its unlawful control over the internationally acknowledged disputed area, India is attempting to use this occasion to create the false impression that the people of Kashmir have fully embraced its forcible annexation. Although India is forcing Kashmir to remain silent, it expects intense protests and strikes from Kashmiris during the huddles. The recent developments in the region have raised serious concerns about the safety and security of the delegates attending the moot.
China, which is a very important permanent member of the organization, has voiced opposition to India's proposal to convene the G20 summit in IIOJK and has urged the group's members to concentrate on the economic recovery rather than indulging themselves into controversial geopolitical issues. China has already boycotted the G20 meeting hosted last month in Arunachal Pradesh as well as a Y-20 meeting in Leh city of the Ladakh region in connection with its principled stance on the festering Kashmir dispute.
All eyes are now set on the three G20 nations which are also members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) whether they will skip the meeting in IIOJK or not. Turkey has always, unwaveringly, supported Pakistan's position on Kashmir. Similar to other OIC members, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has also consistently maintained that the Kashmir issue should be resolved in accordance with the UNSC resolutions. The OIC has criticized India in a number of declarations over its decision to annex Jammu and Kashmir by force in 2019. Despite the growing ties between KSA and India, it is anticipated that KSA might oppose the proposed gatherings in IIOJK.
Brett Schaefer, editor and contributor to the book, Conundrums: The Limits of the UN and Search for the Alternatives has recently published a report on the role G20 should play. According to him, “Geopolitical rivalries could seize up the forum, as disagreements in one area bleed over to impede cooperation even where differences are slight. Under such a scenario, the G20 could continue to meet, but water down commitments to secure agreement and consensus…. the utility of the G20 as a forum for addressing global issues would similarly diminish.”
The G20 is already in danger of losing its relevance and derailing due to the escalating geopolitical tensions among China, Europe, Russia, and the United States. Its legitimacy, credibility and adherence to international norms will be further questioned by India's move to exploit this important international group to subtly seek its consent to its genocide, atrocities, egregious repression of civil liberties and human rights in IIOJK.
The international community must not side with the oppressor in its diabolic tyranny and genocidal designs to deny them their inalienable human rights. G20 members must avoid establishing an unfair precedence for the suppressed people and their oppressors in the world. If India succeeds in manoeuvring its presidency to get credence to its violations of UNSC resolutions and international commitments, other countries with geopolitical and domestic national interests will also be emboldened to follow the lead.
The writer is a Muzaffarabad based social and political analyst.
E-mail: [email protected]
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