By Saima Afzal
Since its formation in 1999, G20 has played a major role in the navigation of the global economy by establishing an international economic architecture and building a permissible path for financial development, growth, and prosperity. The strategic multilateral platform served as a bridge to the world’s major developed and developing economies. Together, the G20 members represent more than 80 percent of world GDP, 75 percent of international trade, and 60 percent of the world population. It consists of twenty states including European Union, the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Korea, South Africa, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and United Kingdom. Spain is invited for a permanent guest. Every year, the Presidency also requests guest states to take a part in G20 summits. Various global and local organizations also participate, conceding the forum wider representation.
However, the G20 presidency changes each year in December on a rotation basis because the group does not have a permanent staff. Currently, Indonesia holds the G20 presidency in 2022, having taken over from Italy. India will chair the G20 in 2023. G20 heads of government including the Finance Minister conducted an annual meeting since 2008. The G20 meetings held during 2008 and 2009 played a vital role in the universal retort to the pecuniary crisis of the late 2000s, whereas a ‘common framework’ for suspending debt repayment demands for low-income countries was adopted by the G20 during the initial phases of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. India will hold the G20 Presidency from 1 December 2022 to 30 November 2023.
Paradoxically, India has announced to host the upcoming G20 summit in IIOJK in 2023 which has raised many questions among the various stakeholders who objected to India’s stance on holding a summit in the disputed territory. Pakistan rejected India’s plan by saying that it is a disputed territory recognized by the two-nation India and Pakistan, whereas India claims that IIOJK is an integral part of India. Pakistan believes India disregards the territory’s globally recognized disputed status. India has formed a five-member coordinating committee for the event. It has been assumed that If India succeeds to hold the G20 summit in IIOJK, it will be the first international event in the disputed region since New Delhi unilaterally revoked the special status of the disputed territory on August 5, 2019. The Indian move has heightened the tensions in IIOJK and Pakistan who strongly condemn the announcement of the summit in IIOJK by declaring it a clear violation of both international laws as well as bilateral treaties between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.
Therefore, the South Asian political experts and analysts highlighted in their interviews and statements that hosting the G20 summit in the disputed territory means giving credence to India’s false claims of normalcy in the IIOJK that would mislead the world regarding the current situation in IIOJK. Kashmiri leaders say that India wants to hide the reality of the Kashmiris’ freedom struggle by holding a summit in the disputed region. It is pertinent to mention here that in the recent past, the Indian government has tried to show normalcy in the troubled region by holding investment conferences from Gulf countries and is now going a step ahead with trying to host a G-20 summit. India is accountable for extensive level atrocities and human rights violations in IIOJK. Various reports of the UN, including the 2018 and 2019 reports of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) have highlighted the ongoing Indian atrocities against the Kashmiri people. India has been trying to alter the demographic structure of the Jammu and Kashmir region is a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions, international law, and the fourth Geneva Convention.
Moreover, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian also stated in the media briefing in Beijing that China’s position on the Kashmir issue is consistent and clear-cut. The Kashmir issue, a dispute left from the past, should be peacefully and properly addressed by the UN Charter, Security Council resolutions, and bilateral agreements. The parties concerned need to avoid unilateral moves that may complicate the situation and efforts should be made to settle the dispute through dialogue and consultation to maintain regional peace and stability. China has expressed its disagreement with India’s plans to hold of G-20 meeting in IIOJK.
Hence, Pakistan, Kashmiri leaders, and diaspora abroad should take UN, OCI, and G20 states into consideration to advise India about the change of venue. India should also allow foreign investigations including the human rights groups for facts finding in IIOJK instead of holding the G20 summit in the disputed territory. Therefore, holding the G20 summit in IIOJK means nothing for the oppressed and subjugated Kashmiris. The international human rights organizations and the world’s developed economic states should come forward and strongly urge India to stop human rights violations in IIOJK and allow the Kashmiris to decide their future by themselves following the UNSC resolution, the only way to lasting peace in South Asia.
* The writer is an Islamabad Analyst and her expertise is in South Asia, Indo-Pacific and security and can be contacted at [email protected].