It is confirmed! Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will be invited to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Heads of Government meeting to be held in India at the end of this year. Invitations will be sent to all the member countries of the SCO for the summit to take place later this year. The SCO has eight members – India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and four observer states — Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia.
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Responding to a question, the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Raveesh Kumar confirmed that the invitation will be sent out to all SCO members. “As per established practice and procedure in SCO, all eight members of SCO and four observer states, and other international dialogue partners will be invited to attend the meeting,” he said.
The prime ministers of the SCO member nations meet annually to discuss multilateral issues and trade cooperation.
It will be interesting to see if Prime Minister Khan attends the SCO summit or sends a representative on his behalf. Usually, the foreign ministers of SCO member nations attend meetings of Heads of Governments. Prime ministers of some countries participate in it at times. In India’s case, the foreign minister participates in the meeting of the Heads of Governments and the prime minister attends the meeting of SCO Presidents.
India had joined the SCO in 2005 as an observer and in June 2017 became a full member along with Pakistan.
In 2014, former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif had visited India after an invite for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s swearing-in was sent to all heads of SAARC countries. Since then no Pak prime minister has visited India. India has scrapped all bilateral meetings with Pakistan and has held the neighbouring country responsible for sponsoring terror attacks in Kashmir.
In 2017, Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former External Affairs Minister late Sushma Swaraj had attended the event in what was the first meeting of Heads of Government after the two nations became full members of the SCO. In October 2018, foreign ministers from both the countries had attended the summit after the prime ministers skipped the meet. In November 2019, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had attended the SCO Council for Heads of Government in Tashkent.