India’s attempt to showcase a sense of normalcy by hosting the G20 working group meeting on tourism in the disputed territory of Kashmir ended up having unintended consequences, as it inadvertently brought international attention to the Kashmir conflict, an outcome India had hoped to avoid.
Several prominent members of the G20, including China and Saudi Arabia, decided not to participate in the two-day meeting. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, stated that China firmly opposes holding any G20 meetings in disputed territories and will not attend such gatherings. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt subsequently followed suit by opting out of registering for the G20 meeting, aligning with China’s opposition.
The ulterior motives of India behind the G20 meeting were brought to light by the United Nations. The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Special Rapporteurs issued a warning to the G20 countries about holding the meeting in disputed territory.
Fernand de Varennes, the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, criticized the G20 meeting in Kashmir, stating that it endorsed the “military occupation” and granted it an “international seal of approval.” The UNHRC statement advised G20 member countries to uphold their international human rights obligations and abide by the UN Declaration on Human Rights. Additionally, it urged the G20 member states to denounce the situation in occupied Kashmir.
The pro-India Kashmiri politician and President of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mehbooba Mufti, tweeted that the “existing repression in Kashmir” was not enough that Indian security forces violated the privacy of Kashmiri people by breaking into their homes before the meeting of G20 member states. Her statement reflected the “repression” of Kashmiris since the abrogation of articles 370 and 35A. Moreover, last month, She decried the Indian government boasting normalcy as thousands were incarcerated. She urged the government to grant political prisoners the opportunity to celebrate Eid-Ul-Fitr alongside their their families.
The concern expressed by both the UN and G20 member countries regarding the disputed territory of Kashmir highlights the international nature of the issue, contradicting India’s assertion that it is solely an “internal matter.”
This further exposes India’s unsuccessful attempts to forcibly establish itself as the rightful authority over the Kashmiri people on the global stage. One such instance is India’s exploitation of the G20 platform as a guise for presenting a false sense of normalcy, masking the oppressive rule it has imposed on Kashmir.
Following the revocation of articles 370 and 35A, the Hindu-Nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party has intensified its efforts to solidify its control over the occupied territory through the implementation of draconian laws and policies.
Kashmir After the Abrogation of Article 370 and 35A
On 5 August 2019, India unilaterally abrogated articles 370 and 35A. This article exclusively entitled Kashmiris to property ownership and granted partial autonomy to the State.
Omar Abdullah, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, called this Indian action a “total betrayal of trust”. He further added that it was an aggression against the people of the state. Article 370 remained an essential symbol of Kashmiri sovereignty. While article 35 A’s demographic restrictions protected Kashmir’s distinct cultural identity. The action not only repealed their special rights given by the Indian constitution but also jeopardized their identity and future in India.
After the abrogation of the article, the Indian government took a number of actions that validate the above argument.
First, the action disregarded 11 United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, notably Resolution 38, which explicitly prohibits unilateral actions leading to any material change in Kashmir.
Second, in May 2022, Delimitation Commission announced a plan to establish new electoral constituencies. These constituencies would give Jammu – a Hindu majority area – greater representation in Jammu and Kashmir assembly. According to the 2011 consensus, Muslims make up 68pc while Hindus account for 28pc of the population.
Third, 3.4 million new fake domiciles were issued by the government to non-Kashmiris. Therefore, they can vote and buy properties.
Fourth, in July 2022, the government granted voting rights to any Indian citizen, even temporary residents, to change demography. It would add an additional 2.5 million voters which is a 30 pc increase of voters. APHC leaders and pro-India former chief ministers and politicians denounced it. Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference described it as a “clear-cut ploy to disenfranchise the people of J&K”.
Fifth, in 2022, the Indian government seized Jammu and Kashmir Waqf board and its properties across the region. Moreover, it banned religious congregations and prayers along with imprisoning religious leaders and Islamic scholars. Sixth, journalists were arrested under anti-terror and sedition laws. The list of laws and policies of repression goes on unending.
The actions of the Indian government aim to ‘consolidate’ and ‘legitimize’ its August 2019 action. They allow Delhi to portray that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir has been ‘normalized’. However, it further added to Kashmiri’s resentment towards India.
Moreover, these actions render Indian arguments false. Indian government argues that the situation in Kashmir was normal and the majority of Kashmiris supported the government. There are some miscreants supported by Pakistan who cause trouble. This raises the question that why the Indian government does not take action against those miscreants instead of the whole state.
India’s Violation of International Law: A Rogue State Unmasked
India time and again proved it is a rogue state under the guise of the ‘largest democracy in the world”. It not only violated international law but also its own constitution. Through its August 5 2019 action, India violated several international laws. These laws included the 1948 International Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Pakistan frequently knocked at the doors of international organizations and world powers to raise voices for the self-determination of the Kashmiri people.
During the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2019, the then Prime Minister Imran Khan emphasized the responsibility of the United Nations to ensure the right to self-determination for the people of Kashmir. Numerous world leaders, including Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Muhammad, voiced their concerns about human rights violations in Kashmir by India from the UNGA platform.
The action taken on August 5 is in direct violation of the Indian constitution. It requires a two-thirds majority in the Legislative Assembly of J&K for any amendments or changing laws or articles related to the state. The Indian government did not even consult the state government while deprived of its partial autonomy. Moreover, it also breached the Shimla Agreement of 1972. The Agreement restricts both Pakistan and India from taking unilateral decisions to change the status of the IOK
Several International non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch report a gross violation of human rights, political oppression, and the use of torture, threat, and violence to suppress self-determination groups in IOK.
Addressing Human Rights and Self-Determination: Pakistan’s Role in Kashmir
The nuclearization of South Asia has exacerbated the dispute beyond human rights concerns. Therefore, in addition to addressing human rights issues, Pakistan should focus on promoting the right to self-determination for Kashmiris in both Indian-occupied Kashmir and Azad Kashmir.
Pakistan should engage with international forums such as the International Criminal Court (ICC), the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Furthermore, it should advocate for independent investigations into political and human rights violations in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IOK) within these forums.
Pakistan should also utilize relevant legal conventions and treaties to raise awareness about identity persecution and demographic changes taking place in IOK.
Additionally, if necessary, Pakistan should consider pursuing a case against India in the ICC for violating the Shimla Accord, as India has unilaterally made material changes by forcibly integrating the occupied territory into its union.
**The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Diplomatic Insight. The organization neither endorses nor assumes any responsibility for the content of this article.