Pakistan’s foreign minister to attend regional meet in India

Islamabad, Apr 20 (EFE).- Pakistan’s foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto will travel to India to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in the first week of May, a ministry spokesperson said Thursday.

It will be the first high-profile tour from Pakistan in over a decade after former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar’s visit to India in 2011.

In December 2016, Pakistan Prime Minister’s foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz visited India to attend a conference on Afghanistan called Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process in Amritsar.

“Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will be leading the Pakistan delegation to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) (meeting) being held on 4-5 May 2023 in Goa, India,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Mumtaz Baloch, said in her weekly press briefing on Thursday.

She said that Bilawal Bhutto would be attending the meeting at the invitation of the current chairman of SCO CFM, Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar.

“Our participation in the meeting reflects Pakistan’s commitment to the SCO Charter and processes and the importance that Pakistan accords to the region in its foreign policy priorities,” Baloch added.

India had extended an invitation to Zardari to participate in the regional meeting through the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, Indian media reported in January.

The development comes at a time when the bilateral relations between both countries have hit a new low after the Indian government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir – a region administered by India as a state -, in August 2019.

Both the countries have downgraded diplomatic ties since then, with the diplomatic missions run by their respective charge d’affairs.

Trade between the two nuclear rivals has also been suspended since 2019.

In 2021, Pakistan and India agreed to a ceasefire by recommitting to the 2003 ceasefire arrangement between both the countries.

In 2003, both agreed to a ceasefire along the Line of Control, a de facto border between the two countries in the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region and on the working boundary which divides both nations in the rest of the areas.

The agreement held for a few years, but regular violations have occurred since 2008.

A sharp spike in ceasefire violations was witnessed after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014.

In 2020, Indian troops committed over 3,000 ceasefire violations in which 28 people were killed on the Pakistani side, according to government data. EFE


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