A decade the last Pakistani FM to visit India was in 2011. While the invitations are routine, the SCO events hold significance as they will bring the Pakistani leadership to India after a decade.
Invitations for the SCO summit, expected to be held in June this year, will also go out to Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif shortly. India has invited Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto, among other members, to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Ministers meeting to be held tentatively in Goa in early May this year, officials confirmed.
Pakistan’s SCO national coordinator took part in the Varanasi meeting virtually, although coordinators had travelled to India last year for previous meetings, including the SCO’s Regional Anti Terror Structure meet. The dates and venues for both meetings were discussed during the third meeting of the SCO coordinators in Varanasi on January 17, and previous meetings held in Delhi, led by Indian SCO national coordinator Yojna Patel.
They will also bring the Chinese and Russian leadership to India in the same year, as they are also invited for the G-20 events. While the invitations for the SCO summit are considered a routine matter as India is chairing the SCO grouping this year, the events gain significance as they will bring the Pakistani leadership to India after a decade.
India has already invited all G-20 Foreign Ministers to the meeting on March 1-2, following which they have been invited to attend the annual MEA Raisina Dialogue conference. China’s newly appointed Foreign Minister Qin Gang is due to visit Delhi for both the G-20 and, subsequently, the SCO meeting, as is Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who was last here in March 2021.
India and China have had very few bilateral meetings since the April 2020 standoff at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) began, although in an unexpected gesture, Prime Minister Narendra Modi shook hands and spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping at a G-20 event in Bali last November. All eyes will also be on the acceptance of Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend either the SCO summit expected in June, or the G-20 summit slated for September, amidst the war in Ukraine.