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The Times of India has reported that the third meeting of the G-20 Tourism Working Group under India’s G-20 Presidency will be held from May 22 to 24 in Srinagar. India assumed the year-long presidency of the G-20 in December last year. It is set to host a leaders’ summit in New Delhi in early September this year. The baton of the annual presidency of the G-20 was handed over to India by Indonesia at the end of the G-20 Summit in Bali.
The G-20 is an inter-governmental forum of the world’s 20 major developed and developing economies, making it the premier forum for international economic cooperation. The Government of India has released a full calendar of events leading up to the summit, which includes G-20 and Youth-20 meetings respectively in Srinagar, Kashmir and Leh, in the neighbouring region of Ladakh, in April and May.
These arrangements are made after close consultations between and with a green signal from the participants. Much thinking and care are needed in arranging international meets.
Surprisingly, Pakistan, not a member of G-20, has raised objections to India organising G-20 events in Srinagar, Kashmir. What are its grouses? Let us try to sift them out from a hotchpotch of allegations and insinuations. In the first place, since Pakistan is not a member of the G-20, it has no right to poke its nose into matters that are the exclusive concerns of the G-20 members.
In its statement, Pakistan says: “The Foreign Office had in June last year cautioned G-20 countries against accepting Delhi’s proposal for holding some of the meetings of the bloc’s next year’s summit in India-held Jammu and Kashmir, saying India attempted to legitimise its illegal control of the disputed region”.
The caution of Pakistan’s foreign office to G-20 in June last year went unheeded. The G-20 summit did not regard Pakistan’s “caution” as having any merit; it proceeded with its business in the normal course. The inference is that none of the pleas made by Pakistan for dissuading India from holding G-20 meetings in Kashmir was accepted. Therefore, the fate of repeating objections will be no different.
Pakistan argues that holding some meetings in Srinagar is “self-serving on New Delhi’s part.” Webster’s Dictionary gives the meaning of the phrase “self-serving” as: ‘serving one’s interests often in disregard of the truth or the interests of others’. In light of this definition, should not India or any other member of G-20 serve its interests? Did not Indonesia, from whom India took the baton, serve its interests by inviting the Summit to Bali – a reputed tourist destination? If that was not “self-serving”, how come India arranging the G-20 Tourism meet in Srinagar, Kashmir, —which is in no way less renowned than Bali for tourism—- becomes self-serving? Is giving an international boost to Kashmir tourism a disservice to nearly ten million people in the Kashmir Valley who are enjoying the main benefits of the industry? Moreover, will Pakistan foreign office explain how India’s decision to hold the meeting in Srinagar “disregards the interests” of other members of the G-20?
In its statement, Pakistan’s foreign office says: “India’s irresponsible move is the latest in a series of self-serving measures to perpetuate its illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir in sheer disregard of the UN Security Council resolutions and violation of the principles of the UN Charter and international law.” Two points need to be discussed. One is India’s “illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir”. And the second is “in sheer disregard of the UN Security Council Resolutions”. Let us examine what the SC Resolution says.
SC Resolution of 21 April 1948 comprises three parts. Summing up succinctly, Part I begins with imposing obligations on Pakistan that (a) Pakistan undertakes to secure the withdrawal of tribesmen and Pakistani nationals from J&K and (b) prevents and stops any intrusion into the state. Obligations imposed on India were (a) Withdrawal of troops conditional to the Commission’s satisfaction that Pakistani nationals and tribesmen were withdrawn and ceasefire made effective, (b) Plan progressive reduction of forces till only minimum strength needed for enforcement of law and order was retained.
Part I of the SC Resolution to which the Pakistani foreign office has referred in the aforecited statement lays the first condition that Pakistan was required to fulfill viz. “secure withdrawal of tribesmen and Pakistani nationals.” This obligation is pregnant with two important logical conclusions. The first is that Pakistani tribesmen and nationals have entered Kashmir and are still there. The second conclusion is that an incursion into Kashmir was undertaken and Pakistan has to withdraw them. Did Pakistan withdraw the tribesmen and its nationals from Kashmir? Let the Pakistani foreign office answer. What Pakistan did was send for reinforcement several fully armed regular Pakistani army battalions to fight the Indian forces. Who has violated the SC Resolution of 21 April 1948? The resolution in question exposed Pakistan’s lie that it did not sponsor the incursion of Kashmir on 22 October 1947.
When the UN Commission (UNCIP) arrived in Karachi on July 7, 1948, the Pakistani foreign minister informed it that the Pakistan army had at that time three Brigades of regular troops in Kashmir, sent to the State during the first half of May 1948. Joseph Korbel, a member of the Commission (who, later on, shifted allegiance to the US) said “This disclosure of Pakistan had changed the entire complexion of the Kashmir issue.”
On June 5, 1958, Nehru wrote to the SC President that there could be no question of the Commission proceeding to implement the resolution until objections raised by the Government of India had been satisfactorily met.
The SC Resolution of 21 April 1948 had become defunct because Pakistan not only declined to implement it but also deliberately acted against its spirit as well. Two former Secretary Generals of the UN, Boutros Ghali and Kofi Annan said that after India and Pakistan signed the Shimla Agreement, the UN was left with no role in Kashmir. Boutros Ghali even wanted to remove the Kashmir issue from the UN agenda in 1995 and his successor Kofi Annan declared that a resolution under Chapter VI passed half a century earlier is “un-implementable”.
Again, in 2002, when US-Pakistan relations were strong, the then US assistant secretary of state, while deposing before the US House International Relations subcommittee had admitted, “in the US view the UN resolutions of the 40s on Kashmir had been superseded by the Shimla Agreement.”
The Pakistani foreign office still believes it will achieve something in Kashmir by peddling falsehoods and canards. India has more than once reiterated its willingness and power to retrieve the part of J&K State that remains under the illegal occupation of Pakistan. Also, India cannot ignore its moral duty to save the citizens of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan who have been making sustained exhortations to the Indian Prime Minister to liberate them from the clutches of Pakistani colonialists. Why is Pakistan beating its breast about Kashmir? The answer is very simple. The Kashmir issue is the only lifebuoy left with Pakistan to hold it back from the total shipwreck. But the lifebuoy, too, is sinking. Alas! Pakistan does not read the writing on the wall.