Bilawal Bhutto to attend SCO meeting in India in May: Pakistan Foreign Office

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan announced on Thursday that Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would participate in the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) meeting in India next month.

Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahrah Baloch announced it at a weekly media briefing here.

“Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will be leading the Pakistan delegation to the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) being held on May 4-5, 2023, in Goa, India,” she said, ending weeks-long speculation if he would attend the conference in-person.

She said the Pakistan foreign minister would be attending the meeting as External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had invited him to attend the SCO moot.

“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 said.

It would be the highest level visit to India by any Pakistani leader in recent years and a possible opportunity to break the ice between the two nations.

The ties between India and Pakistan came under severe strain after India’s warplanes pounded a Jaish-e-Mohammed militant training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot in February 2019 in response to the Pulwama terror attack.

The relations further deteriorated after India announced the withdrawal of Jammu and Kashmir’s special powers and the bifurcation of the erstwhile state into Union territories in August 2019.

The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Over the years, it has emerged as one of the largest trans-regional international organisations.

India and Pakistan became permanent members of the Beijing-based SCO in 2017. — (PTI)