India’s Growing Diplomatic Heft

THE upcoming G20 event in Kashmir has sparked some discussion about the region in national and international media. The drift of the opinion is that decision to hold the event in Kashmir is an endorsement of New Delhi’s actions in the region and represents a significant shift in global geopolitics on Kashmir. More so, when the countries such as China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia who have traditionally supported Pakistan’s stance on the region, are also expected to attend the meeting. And this is happening despite Islamabad’s strenuous efforts to persuade its friendly countries to boycott the Kashmir meeting. Therefore, the symbolism attached to this event cannot be understated.

Since 1989, Kashmir has been a site of unmitigated unrest and violence which have claimed thousands of lives. But in August 2019, the union government took the unprecedented step of revoking Kashmir’s special status. Ever since New Delhi has taken a series of measures to control the unrest in the Valley and restore peace. And in the past three and a half years, the situation has to a large extent been brought under control. Kashmir now is more or less normal, giving the central government confidence to hold an event of international significance in the union territory.

On the other hand, by agreeing to hold the G20 event in Kashmir, the international community is sending a clear message of support for India’s actions. This is a significant shift in global geopolitics, as traditionally, the major powers have been reluctant to take sides on Kashmir. The decision to hold the G20 event in the union territory indicates that the international community, for once,  is now willing to acknowledge and endorse India’s side of story.

Also, holding the event in Kashmir sends a clear message to both China and Pakistan that the world now recognizes India’s sovereignty over the region. This is a significant psychological coup for New Delhi, as it cements the notion that the post-2019 Kashmir is a fait accompli.

Apart from Pakistan, there has been some opposition to the event by some human rights organizations. India’s mission to United Nations has slammed Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues over his critical comment on G20 meet in Srinagar and called it “baseless and unwanted.”

Incidentally, the support for the G20 event in Kashmir comes a month before Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to the US for an official state visit from June 21 to 24, where he will be hosted by US President Joe Biden at the White House. This will be the PM Modi’s first state visit to the US during his nine-year long reign as prime minister and is seen as a loud acknowledgment by Washington of India as a key regional partner and a recognition of the country’s growing diplomatic heft. This role positions India to play a greater role in contributing to both regional and global peace.

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