Pakistani Foreign Minister Attends SCO Meeting In India, Marking First High-Level Visit In A Decade

Despite ongoing tensions between the two countries, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif stated that the decision to attend the meeting reflects the country's commitment to the SCO Charter and multilateralism.

Pakistan foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the foreign minister of Pakistan, travelled to Goa to attend the SCO foreign ministers' meeting. This was the first high-level visit to India by a Pakistani official since 2011. In response, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that his country's decision to attend the meeting demonstrates its commitment to the SCO Charter and multilateralism.

Sharif further added that Pakistan is dedicated to advancing shared values of peace and stability in the region, and seeks win-win understandings based on connectivity, trade, and mutually advantageous cooperation.

Leading a delegation to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers in Beijing is Bilawal, the first Pakistani foreign minister to visit India since 2011.

"During my visit, which is focused exclusively on the SCO, I look forward to constructive discussions with my counterparts from friendly countries," Bilawal tweeted before his departure. 

However, the opposition party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), condemned Bilawal's visit, stating that his participation would have been possible via video. The visit comes at a time of continued tension between India and Pakistan, including issues related to cross-border terrorism. Additionally, Pakistan has declared that its foreign minister will not meet with S Jaishankar, his Indian counterpart.

The SCO is an influential economic and security bloc comprising China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Pakistan. Pakistan has been actively contributing to all SCO activities since becoming a member in 2017, and the foreign ministers at the conclave will deliberate on overall challenges facing the region amidst current geopolitical turmoil.

The relationship between India and Pakistan has been strained, and things got worse after India bombed a terrorist training facility in Pakistan in 2019. This was followed by the state of Jammu and Kashmir losing its special status and being divided into two union territories.

(With PTI Inputs)