Apart from China and Turkiye, Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Oman also dropped out of the tourism officials meeting held as part of the G20 series in Srinagar earlier this week. Pakistan made all efforts to stop members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and is delighted that it was able to prevent some major powers like Egypt from sending their representatives.
The meeting, held to showcase the tourism potential and the development strides that the Union Territory has made since the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, went off without a hitch. If the idea was to underscore the point to the world that all was well in Kashmir, the heavy security presence told its own story.
What impression the officials took back and reported to their governments is not clear, but so far as New Delhi is concerned all was hunky-dory. This was the first international event to take place in Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019.
Egypt staying away is a surprise as New Delhi’s ties with Cairo are gaining momentum. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was the guest at this year’s Republic Day celebrations. Again, India’s ties with Saudi Arabia are growing in leaps and bounds, and Riyadh had refrained from publicly criticising New Delhi after the reorganisation of J&K and the division of the state.
As the custodian of the holy mosques at Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia perhaps thought it best not to attend the meeting at a time when Riyadh wants to project itself as the leader of the Sunni Muslim world. However, this is unlikely to impact India’s overall ties with Saudi Arabia.
China not sending a representative is not surprising as it had been hitting out against the reorganisation of Ladakh as a Union Territory from the start. Two days after Union Home Minister Amit Shah made the announcement in 2019, China had questioned the decision. "China is opposed to India’s inclusion of Chinese territory in the western sector of the China-India boundary, into its administrative jurisdiction," China had said at the time.
Nevertheless, China has attended all other G20 meetings, and President Xi Jinping is expected to be at the summit in September. All major Western powers were present, and diplomatically some countries not attending the Srinagar meeting will have little impact on the India’s G20 presidency.