Tourism conference in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir – that bodes well, especially for tourism in the region. On the other hand, it is also a clear political signal, in this case from India to the rest of the world, especially to neighboring China and Pakistan. As part of the G20 hosting India this year, one of the many working groups sits together from Monday to Wednesday, which really doesn’t really matter. However, the status of the region is politically so controversial with India Hindustani Time on Tuesday commented: “The meeting serves to reaffirm on the global stage that the region is an integral part of the country.”
India and Pakistan have both claimed this Himalayan region since their partition in 1947. The nuclear powers have twice fought over Kashmir. In Muzaffarabad, the capital of the Pakistani part of Asad Kashmir, there were also protests against this G-20 meeting, which only exploded because of the choice of meeting venue. Pakistan stayed away from the conference, as did China, which also borders the region and is increasingly hostile to India in the Himalayas.
Muslims are also in the majority in the Indian part of Kashmir
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari visited Asad Kashmir on Monday and said: “India is abusing its position as leader of the G-20.” He called on the world community to address “gross violations of human rights” in Kashmir. Like the colonial rulers of Great Britain, Indians are now drawn to the cool and picturesque mountain regions as temperatures in other parts of the country soar to 50 degrees Celsius. In Delhi, it is hoped the meeting will also help revitalize international tourism. Recently, news about state terror and repression in the region has dominated the headlines.
After winning elections in August 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) revoked Indian Kashmir’s special status and turned it into a federal territory. And this despite the fact that the majority of people living in India are Muslims, while eight out of ten people in India are Hindus. In what would soon become the world’s most populous country, this led to a conflict fueled by the BJP.
However, there is no moral reason why China sided with Pakistan. Beijing is building a key part of its Pakistan-wide “Belt & Road” initiative to a new deep-sea port in the former fishing village of Gwadar. To use this route, China needs upper access through Kashmir and allied Pakistan. Thus, in the small mountain region, the former sister state and world power China faced each other.
Indian Prime Minister Modi met US Secretary of State Blinken on Monday
While tourism and terrorism are being discussed in Kashmir, Indian Prime Minister Modi is traveling to Papua New Guinea for a meeting aimed at limiting Chinese threats in the Pacific. Modi met US Secretary of State Tony Blinken and 14 Pacific Island leaders in Port Moresby, the Pacific island nation’s capital, on Monday. Each of the states is small, but their area covers 40 million square kilometers of ocean. Among other things, it was agreed that more support in the region in the areas of health, development and climate change. In fact, the US also has an interest in expanding defense cooperation.
Above all, the goal is to allow Pacific island nations not to have to look to Beijing for security policy issues. The islands of Papua New Guinea could become very important as military bases if China attacks Taiwan. The Solomon Islands recently signed a defense agreement with Beijing, upsetting Washington.
Blinken promised Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape several billion dollars in investment as part of an expanded partnership with the United States. Among other things, the military will be trained by US troops. An agreement was also made to increase oversight of Papua New Guinea’s “Exclusive Economic Zone” by US Coast Guard patrols to protect the economy from illegal fishing. This is likely a direct response to China’s territorial violations throughout the region.
Modi calls for a “free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific”
The agreement renews existing military ties with the United States and has “nothing to do with China,” Blinken said. At the cooperation forum between India and Pacific Islands, Narendra Modi advocated for a “free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific”. He actually wanted to meet US President Joe Biden in Papua New Guinea, but he had to cut short his trip to Asia at short notice due to the debt crisis in the US. Secretary of State Blinken led the delegation.
Modi proceeded to Sydney for the Quad group meeting, where he was cheered by some 20,000 Indians at a rally in the city’s largest sporting arena. He hasn’t given a press conference in years. Modi will meet Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Wednesday. It’s about trade and investment, renewable energy and defense and security cooperation. “Australia and India share a commitment to a stable, safe and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” Albanese said earlier. So here too, it’s primarily about China.
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