A government official quoted by Reuters said that hundreds of people rallied in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on Monday to protest India’s decision to host a G20 tourism meeting in its part of the disputed Himalayan region.
New Delhi is hosting the key conference in Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar from Monday to Wednesday, May 24, a move that Pakistan and longtime ally China have opposed.
Several protesters demonstrated in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, and other cities, chanting “go India go back and boycott, boycott G20 boycott!” said the official Raja Azhar Iqbal.
On Monday, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari visited the region and addressed Kashmir’s legislative assembly. He termed the G20 gathering as illegal, and an attempt by India to seek legitimacy over its control of the disputed region.
“India is misusing its position as chair of the G20. A forum created to address global financial and economic issues with utter disregard for the Security Council resolution, the U.N charter and its principle,” he said as quoted by Reuters.
The G20 tourism working group meeting is the first international event in the region since the conversion.
Indian foreign ministry didn’t respond to a request for a comment.
Nuclear-armed nations, Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over Kashmir, which they each claim in full but control parts of.
G20 consists of 19 rich nations and the European Union. India at present holds it presidency, and is set to host its annual summit in New Delhi in September.
India hopes the meeting will help revive international tourism in the scenic Kashmir Valley which has been roiled by a violent Islamist insurgency against Indian rule since 1989, although violence levels have fallen in recent years and domestic tourism boomed.