Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that India is “abusing” its G20 leadership by hosting a tourism conference in the region that is annexed to another country.
It is the first diplomatic occasion in the disputed regions since Pakistan cut off commercial and diplomatic ties with New Delhi in 2019 when it imposed direct administration over the portion of Kashmir with a Muslim majority it controls and enacted a strict security lockdown.
In an interview with AFP on Monday in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, he said, “I wish I could say I was surprised, but I think that this is a continuation of what is now becoming a norm, of India’s arrogance on the international stage.”
India held that an insurgency demanding independence or union with Pakistan has wracked Kashmir for decades, killing tens of thousands of civilians and soldiers.
A smaller portion is under the sovereignty of Pakistan, an anon-G20 member, which claims that hosting the tourism conference there from Monday through Wednesday is against international law, UN Security Council resolutions would make, and bilateral agreements.
The European Union and the 19 largest economies in the worldmake up the G20 participants, who have been “put in a pretty awkward spot,” according to Bilawal.
He remarked, referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, “Those countries that make it a point to remind us and protest how outrageous it is that international law has been violated in Europe: I believe that they should be just as outraged when international law is violated in Kashmir.”
India has invited the international community to an expansive, heavily guarded site on the shores of Dal Lake in Srinagar to project what officials have described as “normalcy and peace” in the violently unstable area.
Residents have complained about the increased security measures over the last week. Numerous people, including store owners, have received calls from authorities advising them against showing any “signs of protest or trouble” and hundreds have been held at police stations.
One of the most heavily fortified areas in the world cannot ever be considered normal, according to Bilawal.
Any possibility of improved relations between the two nations was ruled out by the foreign minister until New Delhi reversed the status of Indian-held Kashmir.
To achieve peace in South Asia, this issue must be addressed, according to Bilawal. Without it, “meaningful dialogue” on shared challenges like militancy and accelerating climate change could not start.
The foreign minister remarked, “We are patient people.”