Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has reached Goa to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit. Ahead of his visit, he said, “I look forward to constructive discussions with my counterparts from friendly countries.”
Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has landed in Goa to attend the Shanghai Corporation Organisation (SCO) Foreign Ministers meeting in Goa scheduled to be held on May 4 and 5. Emphasising that his visit is focussed on the SCO, Bilawal Bhutto said he is looking forward to constructive discussions with my counterparts from friendly countries.
“On my way to Goa, India. Will be leading the Pakistan delegation at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization CFM. My decision to attend this meeting illustrates Pakistan’s strong commitment to the charter of SCO,” the Pakistan minister said in a video message.
“During my visit, which is focused exclusively on the SCO, I look forward to constructive discussions with my counterparts from friendly countries,” he added.
External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar arrived in Goa on Wednesday to take stock of the preparation. S Jaishankar will have a bilateral meeting during the day with many of his SCO counterparts.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said, “Pakistan’s decision to attend SCO Council of Foreign Minister’s meeting in India reflects our commitment to the SCO Charter & multilateralism. We are committed to playing our part to advance our shared values of peace & stability in the region. We are all for win win understandings based on connectivity, trade and mutually advantageous cooperation.” (sic)
In April, Pakistan announced that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would be visiting India to attend the SCO meeting in May.
“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,” Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahrah Baloch had said.
“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 had said.
The announcement of Bilwal Bhutto’s visit to India coincided with the killing of five soldiers in a terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch. The attack on soldiers is likely to cast a shadow on Bhutto’s visit. Ahead of Bhutto’s visit, Poonch attack has further turned relations between the two nations sour.
The ties between India and Pakistan came under severe strain after India’s warplanes pounded a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist 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.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s trip is the first visit to India by a Pakistani Foreign Minister ever since Hina Rabbani Khar met the former Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna in 2011. Khar is currently serving as the minister of state for foreign affairs.
This will also be the first high-level visit from Pakistan after Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz visited India in December 2016.