Indian and Pakistani FMs look beyond ‘bilateral tiffs’ at SCO

Indian and Pakistani FMs look beyond ‘bilateral tiffs’ at SCO

Foreign Ministers of Pakistan and India

The foreign ministers of Pakistan and India came together on Friday to attend ceremonies around the Council of Foreign Ministers meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), but they did not shake hands. 

Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and S. Jaishankar first met at the SCO summit, the first international gathering after the former took over as foreign minister following the transition of power in Pakistan in April. 

The two foreign ministers sat apart even in casual circumstances, such as when they awaited a combined call on the president of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, on behalf of SCO member nations. 

Two nuclear-armed neighbours

The two nuclear-armed neighbours have long-standing ill will toward one another. After the BJP government reinstated the autonomous status of Indian-held Jammu and Kashmir in 2019, Islamabad cut off diplomatic ties with New Delhi. 

Reengagement has so far been thwarted by subsequent events in Kashmir and violence committed by Hindu nationalists against Muslims in India. 

Islamabad has maintained that it wants normalisation but that India must create the right conditions for it to take place. 

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Importance Of Cooperating With India

Last month, when addressing in Islamabad at a government-sponsored think tank, Foreign Minister Bhutto-Zardari emphasised the importance of cooperating with India. In spite of Pakistan’s “long history of war and struggle,” the Indian government’s activities in Occupied Kashmir, and its anti-Muslim agenda, he had maintained at the time that Pakistan should not continue to be disengaged. 

But shortly after, the Foreign Office made it clear that Pakistan’s policy toward India, which is shared nationally, had not changed. 

Accordance with the SCO Regulations and Charter

However, in accordance with the SCO regulations and charter, neither Mr. Bhutto-Zardari nor Mr. Jaishankar highlighted any bilateral conflicts or levelled accusations against one another. 

The SCO charter contains a provision that forbids member nations from bringing their personal disputes to the group’s sessions. 

In his remarks at the Council of Foreign Ministers meeting, the Pakistani FM emphasised Pakistan’s viewpoint on significant regional and global problems of interest to SCO member states. He emphasised the significance of “shared wealth” for international and SCO peace, stability, and growth.

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