G20 TWG Meet: Pakistan’s Envy, India’s Joy – OpEd


The one enduring thing about Pakistan’s never-ending diplomatic offensive on Kashmir that’s really perplexing is its incurable proclivity for adopting self-debilitating strategies. Though Pakistan benefited from New Delhi’s decision to take the issue of Pakistan’s attempt to seize Kashmir through its orchestrated ‘tribal invasion’ to the United Nations Security Council [UNSC] in terms of retaining areas of Kashmir that it had illegally occupied, thanks to a UNSC brokered ceasefire, UN resolutions never questioned J&K’s accession to India, a fact that Islamabad tries to hide through disinformation. 

Consequently, Pakistan’s attempts to garner international support for its assertion that J&K is ‘disputed territory’ have failed miserably due to its inability to furnish any credible argument in support of its ludicrous claim. To make matters worse for Islamabad, the hare-brained strategies adopted by its Foreign Office [FO] have repeatedly embarrassed Pakistan to a great extent, and its obtuse response to abrogation of Article 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution by New Delhi is a case in point.

It is universally accepted that the constitution of any country is an expression of its national identity and therefore it goes without saying that a country’s constitution is an embodiment of its sovereignty. As such, any additions, alterations or modifications in the same that are made through prescribed procedures by the legally constituted government are exclusively an internal matter of the concerned country and sole prerogative of its government. And even a lay person would tell you that Pakistan’s objection to abrogation of Article 370 and 35A by India is, to say the least, ridiculous. 

So, it’s not at all surprising that the erudite Shah Mehmood Qureshi [who was Pakistan’s foreign minister when Article 370 was abrogated by India], admitted during a TV interview that revocation of Article 370 is an “internal matter of India and it meant nothing for Pakistan.” Even before the UNSC discussion on Kashmir took place, his message to Pakistanis and the pro-Pakistan lobby in Kashmir was-“Do not live in a fool’s paradise,” warning them that UNSC members “are not waiting for you with garlands in their hands.”

However, despite Qureshi’s accurate assessment, it’s surprising that Islamabad still chose to exercise the doomed option of alleging that what India had done is tantamount to a serious violation of UNSC resolutions that merited intervention and application of collective pressure by the international community to compel New Delhi to reverse its decision. With both UNSC and the international community rejecting Pakistan’s absurd allegations, Pakistan ended up with egg on its face.

Conversely, these actions once again ratified India’s stand that J&K is an integral part of India and governed by its constitution.  The refusal of UNSC and the international community to arbitrate endorsed India’s assertion that Kashmir is a bilateral issue which needs to be mutually resolved by India and Pakistan without any third party intervention. So, it’s amply clear that while Pakistan’s attempts to demonise India achieved precious little, it did buttress India’s principled stand on Kashmir.

That Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts to garner support for its Kashmir narrative has failed miserably is evident from the fact that even the vain Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was forced to admit that “Islamabad faces an uphill task to get the Kashmir issue into the centre of the agenda of the United Nations.” And while Islamabad may blame all and sundry for this humongous failure, the fact of the matter is that with Rawalpindi sponsoring terrorism in J&K through its spy agency ISI, no one wants to side with it.

Pakistan’s puerile response to New Delhi’s decision of holding the G20 Tourism Working Committee [TWG] in Srinagar is a clear indication that Islamabad has not learnt any lessons from its litany of failures on the Kashmir issue. Pakistan launched a vociferous campaign to dissuade G20 member states from attending this meeting using its hackneyed ‘disputed territory’ card which expectedly flopped. 

Simultaneously, ISI directed its proxies to escalate violence levels to create an illusion of anarchy in Kashmir Valley hoping that this would discourage delegates from attending the G20 TWG meet. While Pakistan backed terrorists were able to attack an army vehicle in the Poonch area of J&K, the alertness and proactive action of security forces and intelligence agencies thwarted ISI’s nefarious design to create any further trouble. 

Rattled by the lack of any positive response to his appeal asking G20 members to give the Srinagar meeting a miss, Bilawal did what can be called diplomatic hara-kiri. He issued an unconcealed [and crude] threat – “waqt par aisa jawab denge ki unko [India] yaad rahega” [at the appropriate time we will give such a response that India will remember it for times to come]. 

The comical part is that even after making a menacing statement that brazenly violates the tenets of civilised communication Islamabad still wonders why it is isolated on the Kashmir issue! 

The G20 TWG meet [from May 22 to 24] went off peacefully and was a thundering success. While a handful of members did skip this event, with 59 foreign delegates attending the same, the absence of those who didn’t turn up wasn’t even noticed. And the irony is that though Pakistan’s closest allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia didn’t participate, both sent their private tourism sector officials to attend this event. 

So, while G20 delegates were busy in the TWG meeting in Srinagar, all that a miffed Bilawal could do was to rush to Pakistan occupied Kashmir [PoK] on May 23 and hold a meeting to protest against this meeting. Even though the G20 TWG meet is done and dusted, for peeved Islamabad the show isn’t yet over. According to media reports, Pakistan’s chargé d’affaires has registered protests with the countries that attended the G20 TWG meet on the grounds that J&K is ‘disputed’.

One can only sympathise with Bilawal for his monumental failure to internationalise the Kashmir issue but he can take solace in the fact that all his predecessors have failed the Kashmir ‘test’. Lastly, a question for Pakistan’s foreign minister- how come holding a G20 meeting in J&K is not in order, but allowing China to undertake the $6.6 billion CPEC project across PoK is kosher? Bilawal, a friendly suggestion, wake up and smell the coffee.

Nilesh Kunwar

Nilesh Kunwar is a retired Indian Army Officer who has served in Jammu & Kashmir, Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. He is a ‘Kashmir-Watcher,’ and now after retirement is pursuing his favorite hobby of writing for newspapers, journals and think tanks.

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