Pakistan is yet to decide on India’s invitation to Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to attend a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Goa, foreign ministry sources said on Wednesday.
All SCO members are expected to attend the meeting of foreign ministers in May to be hosted by India which has taken over the rotating presidency of the SCO in 2022-2023.
Sources in the foreign ministry confirmed that the invitation has been received but no decision has been taken if the foreign minister would travel to India.
Responding to a text message sent by PTI to Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch asking if her office would issue a statement on the matter, she simply responded: “No.”
Launched in Shanghai in June 2001, the SCO has eight full members, including its six founding members, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan joined as full members in 2017.
It is for the first time that India has been given the opportunity to host the member in a high-profile setting.
If accepted, it would be the first visit of any Pakistani foreign minister to India since 2011 when Hina Rabbani Khar visited the country. She is currently the minister of state for foreign affairs.
The invitation came just days after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in an interview called for talks with India over all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, before clarifying that talks cannot take place until the illegal actions of August 5, 2019 are reversed.
If materialised, Bilawal’s visit would be under scanner as protests were organised in India over his “uncivilised” remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the United Nations Security Council meeting.
Over the years, Beijing-based SCO has emerged as one of the largest trans-regional international organisations.
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