Amid the preparations for the third G-20 tourism working group meeting in Kashmir, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti downplayed the forum’s importance calling it a “good promotion exercise” for the ruling BJP and stressed that holding the SAARC summit and discussing problems in the region would help India in becoming a ‘Vishwaguru.’ Speaking to news agency PTI on the preparations for the three-day G-20 grouping meeting, Mehbooba Mufti, the last chief minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, opined that India can establish its leadership in the region and “ultimately…in the world” by taking initiative for SAARC summit.
“We don’t live close to Australia, America or Japan which are members of G-20. We are living in this region and the SAARC caters to the problems of this region and if the government takes the initiative and has a summit of SAARC countries and addresses the problems that are being faced by this region including what is happening in Pakistan” that will help India to be the leader in the region and the world, she said.
But the government “has to understand that the road leads through SAARC and not through G-20”, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief said.
The strain in India-Pakistan ties has often spilt over into SAARC meetings and hindered the organization’s ability to make progress on regional issues. The biennial summits of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation have not taken place since the 2014 meeting in Kathmandu.
The last planned summit scheduled to be held in Islamabad on November 15-19 in 2016 was called off as India expressed its inability to participate due to “prevailing circumstances” following a terror attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir. Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan had also declined to participate.
Mehbooba said that G-20 “may be a good PR exercise for BJP at international level but it is not going to make India the ‘Vishwaguru’ which they talk about”.
It is the SAARC and if the leadership here takes an initiative to have a SAARC summit “that is something that can really establish the leadership of India in this region and ultimately it can establish its leadership in the world,” she opined.