With India currently holding the presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a series of meetings including defence and National Security Advisers (NSA) meeting is scheduled to take place in New Delhi next month.
Member states including Russia, China, Central Asian Republics, Pakistan and Iran will actively participate in these meetings and topping the agenda would be security, connectivity, narcotics, radicalisation, counter-terrorism, connectivity, energy security, and also situation in Afghanistan are expected to be discussed.
For the Defence ministers and NSAs meeting India has sent invitation to Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and National Security Adviser (NSA) which is set to take place in the capital city in April.
According to reports India’s invitation for both meetings has been accepted by Pakistan’s Khawaja Asif. The Indian High Commission handed over the official invitation to the Pakistan Foreign office.
The SCO comprises India, Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Iran. Iran is now a full-fledged member of the organisation and is going participate in all meetings this year under India’s SCO presidency. In view of the growing importance of SCO several West Asian countries are keen to join the grouping.
SCO Foreign Ministers Meeting
The SCO Foreign Ministers will gather in Goa in the first week of May and the SCO Summit level meeting is slated for June this year.
And India has already sent an official invitation to Pakistan’s Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for the meeting and there is confirmation from there so far.
For the meeting of the Chief Justices of the grouping, an official invite had been sent to Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial; however, he skipped the meeting. Instead Justice Muneeb Akhtar was the one who attended the meeting virtually.
The grouping was created at the 2001 Shanghai by the presidents of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Uzbekistan. And in 2017 India and Pakistan became permanent members of the grouping. India will got the presidency of the grouping last September.
India & Pakistan
As far as Pakistan is concerned the bilateral relations between the two countries is at the lowest and in case Bhutto accepts the invitation to attend the foreign ministers meeting in person then it will be a first visit in almost a decade. The last time a foreign minister of that country visited India was back in 2011.
There are several issues which are responsible for the poor relations including cross border terrorism emanating from the neighbouring country as well as Pakistan seeking the restoration of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and their foreign minister’s comment at the United Nations regarding Prime Minister Narendra Modi has created done more damage.
Since February 2021 the tensions between the two countries detoriated following India’s Balakot airstrike and the aggressive response by Pakistan when it downed an Indian Air Force (IAF) MiG fighter jet and had captured Wing Commander Abhinandan. Pakistan later handed over the fighter pilot to India and termed it as “goodwill gesture.’’