Srinagar has sent out a loud and clear message the world over that Kashmir is not what is being made out by a motivated but vocal few. The successful G20 event of the Working Group on Tourism, on the banks of scenic Dal Lake, showcased in immense measure the Valley’s beauty and bounty, hospitality, art, culture, ethos and more importantly the peoples’ yearning for peace—the treasure trove of paradise on earth.
This time around the prophets of doom could not succeed in creating turbulence in the serene lake waters on the face of strong and stable tides floating the peoples’ resolve for pronouncing their tryst with peace and harmony. Kashmir did not shut but smiled and rolled down red carpet for guests. They smiled on every arrival.
G20 event in the Valley was not all about tastefully decorated Srinagar landscape either; it was its geo-political significance that obviously irked the chronic India bashers like Pakistan and China in the backyards, as also some inimical elements back home including those habitual of sitting on both sides of the fence as per their political conveniences stayed off the event in Kashmir, citing its so-called disputed status not being conducive for holding international events, but rest of the member nations and delegations of some other countries strongly endorsed and batted for India on Srinagar turf by ensuring the successful culmination of the agenda, bringing the powerful world closer for easing lives of their populations.
India has emphatically made its position on Jammu and Kashmir clear. It was, it is and it will continue to be an integral part of the nation and if there is any dispute, as a few odd countries are trying to make out, it is the annexation of Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir, in accordance with the unanimous Parliament Resolution of February 22, 1994.
The economically and politically crumbling rogue nation in the neighbourhood has exhausted all its resources in misleading the world and exploiting a fringe section of the Valley society on disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan’s inherent hate for India has made it to wage three full-fledged wars besides low cost proxy war in the Kashmir theatre. In the process, she lost East Pakistan in 1971 and is poised to dismember given political unrest in Baluchistan and the mainland.
The people of Kashmir have realised the ill effects of Pakistan misadventure and politico-terror campaigns of her stooges in the Valley, which is why they did not allow their passions to run high on the face of malicious campaigns orchestrated in the past few months with regard to holding of the G20 event. Islamabad’s Foreign Minister Billawal Bhutto attempted to create euphoria over the G20 Conclave but had to lick the dust.
Some Pak stooges in Kashmir also tried to create controversies with regard to hosting of the event in the Valley, and not in Jammu. Their double edged weapon of putting the two regions face to face and subtly highlighting the so-called disputed nature of the Valley turned out to be blunt.
The just concluded G20 meeting exposed the falsehood of the narrative being created over hosting of international events in the Valley. This also testified that much water has flown down the Jhelum since 1983 when anti-national elements tried to dig the pitch for one-day international cricket match between India and Australia at Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium in the heart of the Srinagar City. The then rulers and their newly found cohorts, together with Pakistani elements, failed to recreate 1983 in Kashmir.
How and why the Srinagar international conclave of the present series of G20 countries remained more successful than earlier two events across the country? Several factors can be cited in support of the argument, first and foremost being India making its presence across the world more pronounced under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The people see in him a leader, who can face global challenges—be it rescue of hapless people from Ukraine or Sudan, combat pandemic or avert crisis between nations, confidently. The people of Kashmir also calculated the positives and economic gains of the event and made a solemn resolution to ensure its grand success.
They saw for themselves the Valley developing and investments pouring in for big malls and projects thus opening vistas of opportunities for youth. It has been a departure from the three-decade norm of Jihadis leading youth to rehabilitate graveyards.
The unprecedented fillip in tourist footfall, touching 1.8 million last year, is prefix for the numbers to cross two crore this year. Post G20 event may witness the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France withdrawing the advisories about Jammu and Kashmir being out of bounds for their nationals.
This will mean a lot for nature, adventure and pilgrim tourism. Surely and certainly, the delegates are leaving the Valley as ambassadors of Kashmir’s great hospitality and rich spiritual ethos after their three-day rendezvous in Srinagar. This is going to manifest in more investments coming from comity of nations.
Film production is yet another landmark feature of the G20 event, as concerted efforts of generating awareness about the facilities are going to convince the global movie makers, apart from Indian cinema, to chalk down their itineraries for locales in Jammu and Kashmir.
Horticulture, handicrafts and art are the other sectors that will go international and create a niche for the products like saffron, apple, crewel, woodcarvings, Basohli paintings and shawls, Pashmina produce etc. The pilgrim destinations like Shri Mata Vaishno Devi and Shri Amarnathji will witness devotees thronging from all over the world thus giving great impetus to overall tourism.
The inclusive and holistic development in both the regions and their sub-regions during the past nearly four years has ingrained a hope among the people about better days ahead. Railway connectivity, highway development, Srinagar and Jammu Smart City Projects are few of the major projects underway to steer Jammu and Kashmir from dark tunnel to light of the day.
Growing economic order will demolish the false narratives. That is the big take of G20 in Kashmir.
The writer is a prominent political figure of J&K.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.