‘India can’t suppress Kashmiri voices’: FM Bilawal on upcoming G20 moot in held Kashmir

Published May 21, 2023
Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari while speaking to the press in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari while speaking to the press in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Sunday that India would not be able to “suppress the voices of the people of occupied Kashmir” by holding the G20 moot in the disputed region.

The third meeting of the G20 Tourism Working Group under India’s presidency will be held from May 22 to 24 in Srinagar, according to Indian media.

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

Pakistan has expressed strong indignation at New Delhi’s decision to hold the G20 Tourism Working Group meeting in occupied Kashmir and called it a “self-serving move”.

Talking to the media today after landing in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on a three-day visit, FM Bilawal said: “It is not possible for India to play an important role in the world by violating UN resolutions.”

“At a time when India is holding a conference in occupied Kashmir, I have been invited to deliver an address to the AJK Assembly,” the minister said.

Bilawal stated that he would also attend a protest rally in the Bagh district to express solidarity with the Kashmiri people. “I believe that when a country takes a step like that India has taken, their real face comes forth in front of the world,” he added.

Blow to India

India has suffered a serious blow as a number of G20 countries have either refused to attend a tourism moot scheduled to begin in Srinagar tomorrow or have yet to commit to attending the event.

China has taken the lead in boycotting the event in the occupied region as its foreign ministry spokesperson said that his country “is firmly opposed to holding … meetings in the disputed territory”.

Moreover, Indian media has reported that Turkiye and Saudi Arabia, both G20 members, have yet to confirm participation while Egypt, which is not a member of the bloc but was invited as a guest, has also not yet registered for the event.

Meanwhile, analysts say India is using the G20 meeting in an attempt to normalise what Pakistan describes as a military occupation of the disputed territory and to create an impression of international approval of its Aug 5, 2019 move that violates the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution on the disputed status of Kashmir.

A UN human rights expert said the meeting would support a “facade of normalcy” while “massive human rights violations” continue in the region.

“The government of India is seeking to normalise what some have described as a military occupation by instrumentalising a G20 meeting and portraying an international seal of approval,” said Fernand de Varennes, the special rapporteur on minority issues, in a statement.

He asserted that G20 is “unwittingly” providing a veneer of support to a facade of normalcy at a time when massive human rights violations, illegal and arbitrary arrests, political persecutions, restrictions, and even suppression of free media and human rights defenders continue to escalate.“

International human rights obligations and the UN Declaration of Human Rights should still be upheld by organisations such as the G20, he said. “The situation in Jammu and Kashmir should be decried and condemned, not pushed under the rug and ignored with the holding of this meeting,” the statement added.

India, however, slammed the expert’s statement terming them as “baseless” and “unwarranted” in its response shared by India’s mission at the UN on Twitter.

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