Protests in Pakistan-ruled Kashmir against India’s G20 meet in Srinagar
Islamabad, May 23 (EFE).- Hundreds of people staged protest rallies in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on Tuesday against a G20 tourism meeting hosted by India in its part of the disputed Himalayan region.
Pakistan’s arch-rival India is hosting a meeting of G20 countries on tourism in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir, between Monday and Wednesday.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari arrived in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on Sunday evening on a three-day visit, where he addressed the legislative assembly of what Pakistan calls Azad Jammu and Kashmir the next day.
Zardari is also expected to address a protest rally in Bagh area of the territory on Tuesday.
During Monday’s address, the minister described the G20 meeting as illegal and an attempt by India to seek legitimacy over Kashmir, which it annexed to the federal territory by scrapping its autonomous status in 2019.
He said that the region was recognized as a disputed territory according to the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the holding of any such meeting by India could not legitimize its legal position.
“India is misusing its position as chair of the G-20, a forum created to address global financial and economic issues,” the foreign minister said.
He said that India’s claim of normalcy in Kashmir was contrasted by the harsh reality of it remaining one of the most militarized zones on the planet.
“I wish to remind the Indian leaders that unilateral steps in Jammu and Kashmir can neither record legitimacy to their occupation, nor suppress the true sentiments of the Kashmiri people. Gimmickry cannot replace legitimacy,” Zardari added.
The G20 tourism working group meeting is the first international event in the region since its legal status was changed by India on Aug. 5, 2019.
Pakistan’s traditional ally, China, has refused to attend the meeting citing its position on the disputed region.
“China firmly opposes holding any form of G20 meeting in disputed areas and China will not attend such a meeting,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Webin said last week.
G20 is a group of 19 of the world’s major developed and emerging economies and the European Union.
India currently holds its presidency and is set to host its annual summit in New Delhi in September.
Brazil will take over the rotating presidency of the G20 from India next year.
India has claimed that holding the meeting in the scenic Kashmir valley will further boost tourism there.
The disputed region has been facing a violent insurgency against Indian rule since 1989.
The two nuclear-armed nations have fought three wars over the Kashmir region since gaining independence from Britain in 1947. EFE