FM Bilawal To Attend SCO Summit In India On May 4: FO

FM Bilawal To Attend SCO Summit In India On May 4: FO
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will go to an SCO summit that will take place in India next month, the Foreign Office (FO) said on Thursday.

In a weekly press conference today, FO spokesperson Mumtaz Zahrah Baloch stated that Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would be in charge of leading the Pakistani delegation to the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) meeting, which will be held in Goa, India, on May 4-5, 2023. However, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Khar will not be among the Pakistan delegation due to some personal reasons.

According to the FO spokesperson, the current SCO CFM chairperson, Dr. S. Jaishankar, Minister for External Affairs of the Republic of India, had invited the foreign minister to the gathering.

"Our participation in the meeting reflects Pakistan's commitment to the SCO Charter and processes, as well as the importance that Pakistan accords to the region in its foreign policy priorities," she added.

She said, "We continue to participate in SCO meetings in keeping with our long-standing commitment to SCO."

The FO spokesperson further emphasized that the country’s participation at the fourth SCO meeting of heads of ministries on environmental protection was represented by Sherry Rehman, minister of climate change. The meeting took place online on April 18, 2023, in New Delhi.

The invitation was sent a few days after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called for discussions with India to resolve all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), while stating that negotiations could not begin until the "illegal actions of August 5, 2019" were undone.

The SCO is made up of the Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, with which Pakistan has recently been stepping up diplomatic relations. It also includes China, India, Russia, and Kyrgyzstan.

The Shanghai Five, which was established in 1996, changed its name to the SCO in 2001 after Uzbekistan joined them. With the inclusion of India and Pakistan in 2017, the SCO grew to become one of the largest multilateral organizations in the world, accounting for more than 30% of the global GDP and 40% of the global population.