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Business News/ News / World/  Pakistan's Bilawal Bhutto Zardari criticises India for exploiting G20 with Kashmir meet

Pakistan's Bilawal Bhutto Zardari criticises India for exploiting G20 with Kashmir meet

‘One of the most militarised zones in the world can never be seen as normal,’ said Bhutto Zardari.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) (AP)Premium
Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) (AP)

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari criticized India for hosting a tourism conference in the disputed region of Kashmir under its control, accusing India of "abusing" its G20 presidency.

As per a report by AFP, This conference marks the first diplomatic event in the territory since Pakistan suspended trade and diplomatic ties with India in 2019.

"I wish I could say I was surprised, but I think that this is a continuation in what is becoming a norm now, of India's arrogance on the international stage," Bhutto Zardari told AFP in an interview Monday in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

"They're abusing their presidency of the G20 to push their colonial agenda, but if they think that by holding one event in occupied Kashmir they can silence the voice of the Kashmiri people, then I believe that they are truly mistaken."

Indian officials strongly criticized the remarks made by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in response to his comments.

The region of Kashmir under Indian control has been marked by a long-standing insurgency seeking either independence or integration with Pakistan. This conflict has resulted in the loss of numerous lives, including civilians, soldiers, and Kashmiri rebels, over the course of several decades.

Non-G20 member Pakistan controls a smaller part, and says holding the tourism meeting from Monday to Wednesday in the territory violates international law, UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements.

China did not participate in the tourism conference, and countries such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which are predominantly Muslim, also chose not to send government representatives. Additionally, some Western nations reduced their level of participation in the event.

It did not attend, while Muslim nations Saudi Arabia and Turkey did not send government representation and some Western countries scaled back their presence.

Indian officials rejected Bhutto Zardari's comments, saying he had no right to make them.

Harsh Vardhan Shringla, chief co-ordinator of New Delhi's G20 presidency, told reporters, "Pakistan has no locus standi when it comes to the G20. They have no locus standi when it comes to Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of India, and the meeting that is being held here today has nothing to do with them."

And Manoj Sinha, who as lieutenant governor is the most senior official appointed by New Delhi to run Indian-administered Kashmir, said Pakistan "should make arrangements for food et cetera for its people. It is essential that civic amenities are restored there. India has moved much ahead from concerns like these."

In an effort to showcase a sense of normalcy and tranquillity in Kashmir, Indian officials have invited the international community to a heavily secured location on the shores of Dal Lake in Srinagar.

But residents have chafed under stepped-up security measures, with hundreds detained according to a senior official and thousands including shopkeepers receiving calls warning them against any "signs of protest or trouble".

"One of the most militarised zones in the world can never be seen as normal," said Bhutto Zardari.

Since the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, India and Pakistan, both possessing nuclear weapons, have engaged in three wars.

Following the revocation of limited autonomy in Indian-administered Kashmir in 2019, the insurgency has been significantly suppressed, although there are still instances of young men joining the rebel movement.

Dissent has been criminalised, media freedoms curbed and public protests limited, in what critics say is a drastic curtailment of civil liberties.

Without it, no "meaningful dialogue" could begin on shared threats including militancy and worsening climate change. "We are patient people," he added.

On the streets of Srinagar, the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, a resident lamented the region's plight.

"We are crushed between two countries because they have the enmity between two," he said. "They are not giving the importance to the people who are living, who are crushed... they are fighting for the land, not for the people."

He has a tourism business but declined to give his name for fear of consequences.

"Kashmir is the adopted child, we are not linked to India right from the beginning," he said. "Everyone knows how adopted kids are treated -- they are always outcasts."

Meanwhile, Pakistan is facing a period of political turmoil as the country experienced riots when former Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested.

Earlier on 4 May, Zardari arrived in Goa, India to lead his country's delegation at the Shangai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) meeting in India. The Pakistan minister had made it clear that there is no plan for a bilateral meeting.

Zardari's visit to India comes days after the Poonch attack (20 April), where unidentified terrorists fired upon an army vehicle passing the Bhimber Gali and Poonch areas in the Rajouri sector through grenades, killing 5 Indian Army soldiers.

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Mausam Jha
A journalist covering International Relations, and Business.
Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
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Published: 24 May 2023, 09:17 AM IST
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