India Extends Invitation To Pakistan's Defence Minister For SCO Meeting, Could Ease Tensions

Ujjwal Shrotryia

Mar 16, 2023, 12:50 PM | Updated 12:50 PM IST

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit 2022, held in Uzbekistan. (Image via Twitter).
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit 2022, held in Uzbekistan. (Image via Twitter).

In a move that could ease tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, India has extended an invitation to Pakistan's Defence Minister Khawaja Asif for a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in April, reported The Indian Express.

India is the current chair of the eight-nation SCO and has also invited Pakistan's Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for the SCO Foreign Ministerial conclave in May.

China's Foreign Minister Qin Gang has also been invited to the conclave, while Pakistan's confirmation of their officials' attendance is still pending.

The SCO consists of Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan in addition to India, China, and Pakistan.

Asif's attendance at the meeting would mark a rare occasion of a Pakistan Defence Minister visiting India.

The last time such an event took place was in July 1972, when the, then president Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, visited India and signed the Simla Agreement with erstwhile prime minister Indira Gandhi.

Bhutto at that time held several portfolios, including Defence and Foreign Affairs, the Indian Express reports says.

Pakistan's Defence minister has not had the chance to travel to India before, as they have limited involvement in the country's military affairs, according to the report.

The last time a Pakistani foreign minister visited India was Hina Rabbani Khar, in 2011. The invite was sent to Pakistan’s Defence Minister by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

India plans to invite the Prime Minister of Pakistan, and the Presidents of China and Russia separately to attend the upcoming SCO summit. The meeting will be chaired by India's Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh.

Terrorism, regional security, and the Afghan security situation, will be the main topics of discussion in the meeting.

Relations between India and Pakistan worsened following the terrorist attack on the Army Camp at Uri, in September 2016, prompting Indian Special Forces to destroy terrorist launch-pads across the Line Of Control (LoC).

Moreover, in August 2019, India amended Article-370 from its constitution, removing the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

There have been some instances of cross-border terrorism, but peace has mainly been maintained along the LoC since a ceasefire was declared in February 2021.

Staff Writer at Swarajya. Writes on Indian Military and Defence.

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