Pakistan’s Supreme Court Justice Munib Akhtar on Saturday virtually addressed the 18th meeting of Chief Justices of the Supreme Courts of the Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
The Supreme Court of India is hosting the meeting of Chief Justices and Chairperson of the Supreme Courts of SCO from March 10-12. Earlier, Pakistan had said that it will not attend the meeting and The Express Tribune cited Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch attributing “unavoidable commitments on the scheduled meeting dates.”
In her statement, Baloch said, “As one of the active members of the SCO, Pakistan regularly participates in all SCO activities and constructively contributes to their outcomes.”
“Due to his unavoidable commitments on the scheduled meeting dates, the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan will not be able to participate in the SCO meeting of the Chief Justices of the Supreme Courts scheduled from 10-12 March 2023. He has accordingly conveyed his regrets to his Indian counterpart, who is the current chair/host of the meeting,” the statement by Baloch said, according to The Express Tribune.
India has also invited Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to the SCO foreign ministers meeting to be held in Goa in May this year. Pakistan has yet to decide whether the foreign minister will attend.
On Friday, while responding to a media query in the press briefing, the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson said, “Regarding participation in the upcoming SCO Council of Foreign Ministers, as I have said earlier, the matter is under consideration and as and when this decision is taken, we will share it with everyone,” according to Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.
“On austerity, as I said last time, in compliance with the instructions of the Government of Pakistan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also undertaking an exercise to comply with the austerity directives and is taking all measures necessary to cut down on our expenses,” she added.
Prior to the summit, the Supreme Court of India released a statement where it said that Chief Justices and Chairpersons of the Supreme Courts of SCO member States have been invited to attend the meeting. The meeting is likely to witness discussions on Smart Courts and the future of the Judiciary; Facilitating Access to Justice; Institutional Challenges facing the Judiciary: Delays, Infrastructure, Representation, and Transparency.
The meeting will involve a joint interaction with the Chief Justices, Chairpersons, Judges from the Member and Observer States and representatives from SCO Secretariat and SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) and will conclude with the signing of a joint statement.
Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Judges of the Supreme Court, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph among others participating from India.