ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday said he was “happy” to be in India to participate in the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) while expressing hope that the regional gathering would be “very successful.”
The Pakistani minister, along with his delegation, arrived in India on Thursday morning to attend the two-day meeting.
The development is thought to be significant since Pakistan downgraded its relations with the rival South Asian nuclear-armed nation after New Delhi revoked the special constitutional status of Indian-administered Kashmir in August 2019 to integrate the Muslim-majority disputed Himalayan territory with the rest of the Indian union.
Bhutto-Zardari’s visit is the first one by a high-profile Pakistani official since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attended Indian PM Narendra Modi’s swearing-in in 2014 and de facto Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz went to Amritsar in December 2016 to attend the Heart of Asia conference.
“I am very happy to reach Goa today to participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) [meeting] and to lead the Pakistani delegation,” he said in a video message from India.
“I hope that the SCO’s CFM meeting will be very successful,” he added.
Prior to his departure, the Pakistani minister said his participation in the moot sent out a “clear message that Pakistan attributed tremendous significance to the SCO and seriously took its membership [responsibilities].”
He added that during the two-day trip, he would engage bilaterally with other countries which were part of the organization.
The foreign minister is attending the SCO’s CFM meeting at the invitation of the current SCO chair, Dr. S. Jaishankar, who is also India’s minister for external affairs.
The foreign office said Pakistan had been actively and constructively contributing to all SCO activities to realize its multi-sectoral aims and objectives in a mutually beneficial manner since becoming a member in 2017.
“The Foreign Minister will also meet with his counterparts of friendly countries on the sidelines of the CFM,” said the statement.
Speaking to Arab News after the announcement of the foreign minister’s visit, international affairs analyst Dr. Huma Baqai referred to the development as a “positive” one and urged political parties to refrain from indulging in politics since it was a national issue.
“We have been hostage to the Kashmir conflict for decades now, and people on both sides [Pakistan and India] remain at the losing end,” she said.
“Both countries should move on to normalize their relations for the benefit of their people,” she added.