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WORLD NEWS | Pakistan mulls participation in SCO in India

Pakistan Supreme Court Justice Munib Akhtar speaks at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting on March 11 (Photo/ANI)

Islamabad [Pakistan]March 27 (ANI): As New Delhi has extended invitations to Defense Minister Khawaja Asif and Foreign Minister, Pakistan has started internal consultations to decide whether to participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) defense minister and foreign minister meeting in India. Meeting of foreign ministers. Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Tribune reports.

A meeting of defense ministers is scheduled to take place in New Delhi in April, while a meeting of foreign ministers will be held in Goa in May.

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India is the current chairman of the eight SCO countries and is holding a series of activities. Apart from one event where Pakistan was denied entry due to a map dispute, Islamabad participated in all events, including a meeting of chief judges and a videoconference of energy ministers, The Tribune reported.

India has denied Pakistan’s participation in a seminar on the contribution of the Armed Forces of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to military medicine, healthcare and epidemics held in New Delhi on March 21.

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India objects to Pakistan’s use of a map that includes Jammu and Kashmir as its territory. After the incident was reported to the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Pakistani side was asked to show the “correct map”, otherwise they would not be allowed to participate in the seminar.

The Tribune reported that the Pakistani delegation opted not to attend, while Pakistani media sources in Islamabad said India had effectively withdrawn its invitation.

According to the Tribune, a three-member Pakistani military delegation led by a brigadier general attended in person the meeting of the expert working group of the Council of Defense Ministers in New Delhi on Thursday.

The presence of the Pakistani delegation in New Delhi raises the possibility that the defense and foreign ministers will travel to neighboring countries.

While a Foreign Office (FO) spokesman insisted that a final decision would be made closer to the event, sources said internal consultations were already underway, The Tribune reported.

Authorities are currently divided over participation in the high-profile meeting. One view is that, given the current relationship with Pakistan, only low-level officials should be sent to SCO meetings if needed. But others disagree, the Tribune reported.

They argue that Pakistan cannot afford to ignore these important regional forums, and since the SCO is made up of powerful countries including Russia and China, Pakistan must use this opportunity to advance its interests.

Much depends on China, the sources said. If China, as a founding member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, played a key role in Pakistan becoming a full member, if China asked Islamabad to participate in the meeting, it would be difficult for the government to ignore this suggestion.

According to the Tribune, Pakistan and India were accepted as full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization after both sides pledged not to undermine regional focus by raising bilateral issues.

With this in mind, it will be difficult for Pakistan to stay away from the SCO meeting entirely.

Sources said Bilawal was keen to travel to India for the SCO meeting. If pakistan attends meeting of defense ministers and foreign ministers. Prime Minister Sheikh Baz Sharif is also likely to travel to India for the SCO summit in July.

Relations between Pakistan and India remain at a standstill despite recent efforts to normalize relations. If Pakistan sends a high-level SCO delegation to India, it may break the deadlock, although it may not bring about any dramatic changes in bilateral relations.

The final decision on Pakistan’s participation in SCO ministerial meetings and summits will be taken after due diligence, the source said. It also depends on the political situation in Pakistan, they added, according to the Tribune. (Arnie)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)

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