India, as the chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), has sent invitations to China and Pakistan for the Defence Ministers’ Meeting which will be held next month in April. After this, a meeting of foreign ministers of the organisation will be held in Goa in May. There has been no response from Pakistani officials regarding whether or not Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari or Defense Minister Khawaja Asif will attend these meetings taking place in India.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry says that the decision to attend this meeting will be taken at the right time. If Pakistan’s foreign minister attends the meeting in person, it will be the first visit by a Pakistani foreign minister to India after 2011. In 2011, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar visited India.
India had earlier also invited the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Umar Ata Bandial, to attend the SCO Chief Justices’ Meeting, but he did not attend the meeting. In his place, Justice Munib Akhtar participated in the SCO meeting through video conferencing.
This year, India will host a number of the SCO meetings, including the summit on June 25 and the Foreign Ministers’ meeting on May 4-5 in Goa, for which invitations have already been sent. Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi is anticipated to attend the summit in Delhi in July, as his nation joins the mega organisation.
Member countries have been formally invited to participate in the Defence Ministers’ Meeting. The SCO is made up of eight member countries, namely Russia, India, China, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, that cover over 60% of the Eurasian landmass, 40% of the world population, and 30% of the global GDP. The members will take an active part and discuss matters of regional concern, security, growth and multilateral relations. The organisation focuses on promoting economic, political, and military cooperation among its members, and with Iran becoming a full-fledged member under Indian Presidency, the SCO’s strategic significance has grown even more.