The Foreign Office (FO) said on Sunday that insinuations associating Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s remarks on India’s decision to hold G20 meetings in occupied Kashmir with a threat of violence were “not only mischievous but highly irresponsible”.

India assumed the year-long presidency of the G20 in December last year. It is set to host a leaders’ summit in early September.

Last month, the neighbouring country released a full calendar of events leading up to the summit, which included G20 and Youth 20 meetings in occupied Kashmir’s Srinagar and in Leh, in the region of Ladakh, in April and May.

Pakistan has “vehemently condemned” India’s move, saying such a move was “self-serving” on New Delhi’s part.

FM Bilawal, during his two-day visit to India for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) moot, had also condemned New Delhi’s decision to hold G-20 meetings in the disputed territory.

Responding to questions regarding the matter in a media talk after the SCO meeting, FM Bilawal had said: “Obviously we condemn it and at the time we will give such a response that it will be remembered.”

He had said holding the meetings in the disputed territory showed India’s “pettiness” and was “a show of arrogance to the world that to hell with international law, UNSC resolutions and bilateral agreements, India will hold its events in Kashmir”.

FM Bilawal had further stated that India would soon find that “they will be unable to achieve 110 per cent attendance because other people will not compromise on their morals”.

Subsequently, Indian news outlets such as the Hindustan Times and India Today had reported Bilawal’s remarks as a “veiled threat to India”.

In a statement issued today, FO spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said that the foreign minister had on his visit to India emphasised the “critical importance of relevant UN Security Council resolutions” for a peaceful settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

“Clearly, he based his case on international law,” she noted.

Baloch said that the Foreign Ministry had already “articulated Pakistan’s position on the G-20 Tourism Working Group meeting in IIOJK in its press release of 11 April 2023”.

“Any insinuation, associating foreign minister’s remarks with a threat of violence, is not only mischievous but highly irresponsible. It is an attempt to shift focus from the Foreign Minister’s key message of conflict resolution through dialogue and in accordance with international law and UN security council resolutions,” the FO stressed.

The spokesperson added that “journalistic norms must be respected while reporting on sensitive inter-state matters”.

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