G-Shock Eases Off
Kashmir may be venue only for preparatory meetings of G-20
Conflicting news reports over whether the G 20 meetings will be held in Kashmir have quietened a flurry of discussions over the issue locally and also nationally.
Early last week, news reports appeared that the G-20 meetings for 2023 are likely to be held in Kashmir during India’s presidency of the elite group. They were met by surprise. The issue soon became a hot topic of discussion in many quarters in Kashmir. Some hailed the move on the ground that it would provide impetus to Kashmir in attracting investment and tourism, and would project “peace and normalcy” here.
The issue made national headlines after the letter issued by J&K Principal Secretary Manoj Kumar Dwivedi appeared in the media, which spoke of the constitution of a five-member committee for the “overall coordination of G-20 meetings” to be held in the Union Territory. LG Manoj Sinha described the meetings as a “very good beginning” for Jammu and Kashmir. His statement was seen as confirmation that G-20 meetings would be held in Kashmir.
Political and security analysts who addressed the matter said that the announcement to host the G-20 meetings in Kashmir would be a phenomenal politico-diplomatic win for India. The decision, they said, carried strong political and diplomatic signaling. It was commonly felt that the Centre had decided to hold the G-20 meetings in Kashmir to demonstrate to the world that normalcy has returned to the Valley. It would also call Pakistan’s bluff that Kashmir is a disputed and disturbed place.
Some media reports now say that the government intends to hold only the preparatory meetings for the G-20 Summit in different states across the country, and Kashmir may be chosen as one of the venues. Media reports quoted officials as saying that the venues would be decided depending on the availability of accommodation and connectivity, as well as other parameters.
The Significance Of G-20
G-20 is a group of 20 countries plus the European Union, and includes top representatives from the IMF and World Bank. Collectively, G-20 countries represent 80 per cent of the world’s GDP, 75 pc of global trade, and 60 pc of global population. G-20 was set up in 2007, and has emerged as one of the most important multi-lateral forums globally to discuss a multitude of issues that impact humanity.
Every year, the G-20 meetings are held at different destinations globally. The agenda for discussion for 2023 is likely to be the pandemic, climate change, social security, governance, food security, migrations and other non-traditional security threats.
G-20 Summits are usually held at exotic locations. The G-20 Summit for 2022 is being held at Bali. From that perspective, Kashmir fit the bill. About 190 meetings will be held in India at different destinations. It was initially felt that some of the major meetings of G-20 would be held in Kashmir.
Challenges Lie Ahead
Given the current security scenario, challenges lie ahead also for the preparatory meetings for G-20 which may be held in Kashmir. One, the challenge related to holding major strategic meetings in a place which has been under the shadow of violence for decades. The killings of soft targets and non-Kashmiri population have been cause for concern recently. One can expect attempts by Pakistan and its proxies to undertake some sensational acts of violence or terrorist strikes.
There will also be need for fool-proof security umbrella if preparatory meetings for G-20 are held in Kashmir. Any untoward incident, be it a terrorist strike or any other act of violence, will be under the glare of the international media.
Soon after the initial media reports that G-20 meetings would be held in Kashmir, Pakistan started making noises and registered its objections globally. It was expected that Pakistan would reach out to other countries – particularly Turkey and China – to oppose Kashmir as the choice of venue. Both Turkey and China have from time to time have supported Pakistan’s opposition regarding Jammu and Kashmir.
As was expected, on June 30 China voiced its opposition to media reports that said India planned to hold the G-20 meetings for 2023 in Jammu and Kashmir, and echoed close ally Pakistan’s objection.