A top Pakistani advisor participated in the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) virtually, being held in New Delhi, even as Islamabad continued to remain non-committal about sending a delegation to India for the high-level moot.
India currently holds the presidency of the SCO, which comprises China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said on Friday at the weekly briefing that Adviser to the Prime Minister on Tourism & Sports, Aun Chaudhry, virtually represented Pakistan in the SCO Meeting of the Heads of Tourism Administration.
“As an active member of the SCO, Pakistan will continue to participate in SCO activities and constructively contribute to their outcomes,” she said.
The SCO foreign ministers’ meeting is scheduled for May in Goa while the defence ministers’ huddle will be held in New Delhi in April.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and China’s Qin Gang are among the foreign ministers of the SCO member nations invited by India for the meeting it is scheduled to host in May.
When asked about any possibility of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Zardari travelling to India for top-level representation, she said that an announcement would be made at an appropriate time.
“We will make announcements about our future participation when the time is right. At this stage, I am not in a position to confirm the participation of our senior officials in the upcoming SCO meetings,” she said.
India earlier invited Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, as well as shared an invitation for the meeting of foreign ministers of SCO, the report said.
The Chief Justice, however, skipped the meeting of the SCO Chief Justices and Justice Muneeb Akhtar attended the meeting through a video link instead between March 10-12.
On March 14, Minister for Energy Khurram Dastgir Khan also participated virtually in the Third SCO Ministers of Energy meeting.
The ties between India and Pakistan came under severe strain after India’s warplanes pounded a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot in February 2019 in response to the Pulwama terror attack.
The relations further deteriorated after India announced the withdrawal of Jammu and Kashmir’s special powers and the bifurcation of the erstwhile state into Union territories in August 2019.
The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Over the years, it has emerged as one of the largest trans-regional international organisations.
India and Pakistan became permanent members of the Beijing-based SCO in 2017.