Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday left for Kazakhstan to attend the two-day Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, with a chance meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi not ruled out, a media report said. Pakistan and India are to become full members of the SCO at the 7th SCO summit being held in the Kazakh capital Astana.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Commerce Minister Khurram Dastagir and Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz are accompanying Sharif, Pakistan Today reported. During his stay, Sharif will be holding bilateral meetings with the presidents of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan on Thursday, and the Mongolian and Russian presidents on Friday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also attending the conference, as India too will be granted full membership of the SCO. According to sources, there may be a chance meeting between Sharif and Modi on the sidelines of the summit.
With the inclusion of Pakistan and India, the SCO will have a total of eight states as permanent members – after China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The group will then represent nearly half of the world’s population after the inclusion of the subcontinental neighbours.
Pakistan and India both currently hold observer status at SCO. Sharif will also be attending the inaugural ceremony of the International Expo 2017, in which more than 100 countries, including Pakistan, are participating.