Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari poses after an interview with AFP in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir on May 22, 2023. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)
India is “abusing” its presidency of the G20 by holding a tourism conference in the portion of Kashmir it controls, Pakistan’s foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said.
“I wish I could say I was surprised, but I think that this is a continuation in what is becoming a norm now, of India’s arrogance on the international stage,” he said in a Monday (22) interview in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
“They’re abusing their presidency of the G20 to push their colonial agenda, but if they think that by holding one event in occupied Kashmir they can silence the voice of the Kashmiri people, then I believe that they are truly mistaken.”
It is the first diplomatic event in the territory since Pakistan suspended trade and diplomatic ties with India in 2019, when New Delhi imposed direct rule on the part of Kashmir it controls and enforced a heavy security lockdown.
The G20 participants – made up of the European Union and the world’s 19 top economies – have been “put in a pretty awkward spot”, said the 34-year-old Bhutto Zardari.
“Those countries who make it a point to remind us and protest how outrageous it is that international law has been violated in Europe: I believe that they should be just as outraged when international law is violated in Kashmir,” he said, in a reference to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“One of the most militarised zones in the world can never be seen as normal,” said Bhutto Zardari.
The Pakistani foreign minister ruled out any chance of a warming of ties between the two countries unless New Delhi revoked the change in status of Indian-controlled Kashmir.
“Until this topic is addressed, it really stands in the way of peace in all of South Asia,” said Bhutto Zardari.
Without it, no “meaningful dialogue” could begin on shared threats including militancy and worsening climate change.