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G20 Summit in India and Pakistan’s Perspective

The annual Group of 20 (G20) summit held in New Delhi concluded with leaders from major economies coming to a compromise on various global issues.

On September 9-10, 2023, the G20 Summit, a gathering of the world’s most influential economies, was held in New Delhi. This prestigious event, sponsored by India, aroused concerns due to its chosen location: the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The action sparked controversy and was criticized by multiple parties, including Pakistan and China.

The G20 group, which consists of 19 prominent economies and the European Union, represents a substantial portion of the global economic and political power. In December 2022, India assumed the G20 presidency, which it will hold until November 2023. This presidency was an opportunity for India to demonstrate its global leadership.

Despite this, India’s decision to host the G20 Summit in Jammu and Kashmir was met with significant opposition. From Pakistan’s perspective, this decision to host the conference in a region with territorial disputes was extremely concerning. This decision followed India’s unilateral revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5, 2019, which escalated regional tensions.

China, a prominent G20 member, proclaimed publicly that it would not attend the conference if it was held in the disputed territory. This position was consistent with Pakistan’s objection to conducting a major international event in a contested region. Also supporting Pakistan’s position were Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and Oman. India responded to these objections by asserting its right to host meetings on its own soil and emphasizing the significance of China’s border stability.

India ultimately decided to relocate the summit to the iconic Bharat Mandapam in New Delhi, despite significant objections from numerous G20 member nations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was enthusiastic about hosting the G20 Summit and emphasized its potential to pave the way for human-centered and inclusive development.

India’s hosting of the G20 Summit was consistent with its larger political goals. The Indian Minister of Foreign Affairs emphasized the importance of a multipolar Asia and a more equitable distribution of global power and resources. India sought to establish itself as a leader in the Global South by addressing issues such as economic growth, development, corruption, food security, and poverty reduction.

However, the summit was marked by significant disagreements, especially regarding the Ukraine crisis, which overshadowed other topics of discussion. The inability to reach an agreement on a joint statement exposed the rifts between the Western nations led by the United States and Russia. In light of increased crude oil imports from Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, India’s central position in balancing its relations with the United States and Russia was evident.

The theme of the G20 Summit in 2023 was “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” which drew inspiration from ancient Sanskrit texts and emphasized unity and environmental sustainability. It emphasized the interdependence of all life on Earth and encouraged environmentally responsible decision-making at the individual and national levels.

Presidency of the G20 entails numerous responsibilities, including agenda formulation, meeting hosting, and providing logistical support. The G20’s trajectory for the year was shaped by the invitations extended to guest nations and organizations during India’s presidency.

It is important to note, however, that India’s desire to host the G20 Summit in Kashmir was a controversial move. The international community, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch, has raised concerns about human rights violations in Indian-administered Kashmir despite attempts to portray normalcy through tourism and investment conferences. Critics have charged that these actions violate international law, UN Security Council resolutions, and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

India’s hosting of the G20 Summit in New Delhi was a significant occasion for the nation to assert its global leadership, as evidenced by the significance of the summit for India. Nevertheless, the controversy surrounding the initial location selection in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir highlighted the complexities of regional politics and human rights concerns. India confronts the challenge of resolving these contentious issues while pursuing its global ambitions as it continues to navigate its place on the international stage.

Despite its limitations, the G20’s decisions bear significant weight, as they reflect a consensus among nations that account for 80% of global total production and 75% of world trade. This consensus-building process can lead to compromises that resolve the diverse concerns and policies of its members, such as the United States, China, and Russia.

The recent G20 Summit in Delhi raised two major issues: the language used regarding the Ukraine conflict and Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman’s announcement of an economic corridor connecting India, the Middle East, and Europe. India was successful in preventing a direct condemnation of Russia as an aggressor state and exerted influence over Western nations, including the United States, which was represented by Vice President Joe Biden. In addition, the announcement of the economic corridor has significant regional and international implications, and could serve as an alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China.

Due to the complexities of international geopolitics, it is crucial not to rule out the possibility of the new economic corridor complementing rather than replacing the BRI, despite the fact that many experts view this corridor as a success for the United States and India. Do not underestimate India’s ability to keep both Russia and the United States satisfied while limiting China’s influence.

In Pakistan, the omission of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the summit is viewed as a diplomatic failure rather than a diplomatic success for India. Despite the announcement of the economic corridor, relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are anticipated to remain unchanged. Saudi Arabia maintains cordial ties with numerous global actors, such as the United States, China, and Iran, and is likely to provide Pakistan with the necessary support while cultivating ties with India.

The practicality of the economic corridor has been debated on social media, with maps illustrating its extent and utility. However, the most important issue for Pakistan is whether or not it will allow its territory to be used for trade between India and Europe.

In light of these developments, Pakistan should investigate opportunities to join the economic corridor rather than react negatively. Such participation could be extremely advantageous for Pakistan, even if India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is initially resistant to the notion. Pakistan can leverage its relationships with Saudi Arabia and the United States to pursue participation in this economic corridor. This action is consistent with Pakistan’s potential to establish a geoeconomic-based foreign policy, a strategy that China is likely to support in light of the BRI corridor.

Given Pakistan’s current economic and political crises, it may be hesitant to pursue this course of action. Significant alterations may be viewed as a compromise by the prevalent mentality, which may resist them. Pakistan confronts challenges, but it also has the opportunity to strategically position itself in the evolving geopolitical landscape. The G20 Summit and the announcement of the economic corridor present Pakistan with an opportunity to investigate avenues for economic development and regional connectivity, assuming it can navigate domestic political dynamics and grasp opportunities as they arise.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Coverpage’s editorial stance

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