After India successfully hosted 59 international delegates at the G20 Tourism Working Group meeting in Srinagar from May 22 to 24, Pakistan’s Charge de Affairs (CDA) to India lodged a protest with all those countries who attended the event in the Valley, HT has learnt.
Pakistan had lobbied with Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries invited to Srinagar to boycott the event on grounds that Jammu & Kashmir was disputed territory, but only Islamabad’s top strategic partner China, Egypt, and Oman did not attend the G20 meeting. Egypt and Oman are among the nine countries invited as guests by India for the September G20 Summit. Three travel industry representatives from Turkey and two travel industry representatives from Saudi Arabia attended the event though there was no official participation.
Among OIC countries, Nigeria was represented by its deputy high commissioner and three delegates from the high commission, Bangladesh was represented by its high commissioner, UAE by one official and two travel industry representatives, and Indonesia by one embassy representative. Much to the chagrin of China and Pakistan, the United Nations was represented by its Headquarters, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), and the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Despite Islamabad having no locus standi either in G20 or Srinagar, as external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) foreign ministers’ summit in Goa earlier this month, Pakistan foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari went to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) on May 23 and addressed a meeting in Bagh to criticise the Narendra Modi government for hosting the Srinagar event. While thanking “all-weather friend” China, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey for ostensibly shunning the G20 Srinagar meeting, he slammed the Modi government for allegedly maligning Pakistan and the Kashmiri people. To be sure, China was the only country that publicly announced the boycott of the Srinagar meeting saying it was opposed to holding the meeting in what a Beijing spokesman termed as “disputed territory”.
Apart from the J&K administration, including lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha, playing a vital role in the success of the G20 event in Srinagar, the G20 secretariat, the tourism ministry, and the national security agencies played their part in ensuring that the event was free of incident.
HT has learnt that India had given a firm message to Pakistan that there would be a retaliation if any incident involving Pak-sponsored terrorists took place during the Srinagar event.