Pakistan sees India creating hurdles in SCO participation

ISLAMABAD, April 05:Pakistan may be considering to attend the key ministerial meetings of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in India but initial internal assessment suggests the Modi government may create a situation to make it difficult for the country to send its delegates.

Official sources familiar with the development told The Express Tribune on Tuesday that Pakistan was considering the invitation India extended as the president of SCO for the upcoming meetings of defence and foreign ministers.

The SCO defence ministers meeting is scheduled to be held later this month in Delhi while the foreign ministers’ huddle will take place in May in Goa. India extended the invitations for both the meetings.

However, there is a sense within the Foreign Office that India may not be interested in Pakistan attending those high-profile meetings because of the Modi government’s policy.

“We haven’t yet arrived at a final decision. However, there is a feeling that even if Pakistan intends to send its ministers, the Modi government may create a situation where it will become difficult for us to attend the SCO ministerial meetings,” a source with knowledge of the closed-door consultations said.

The source claimed that under the current circumstances, it did not suit Prime Minister Modi that Pakistan attends the SCO meetings in India. The general elections are due in the neighbouring country next year and Prime Minister Modi always cashed in on his anti-Pakistan campaign.

The reason sources made such an assessment were certain recent events. For example, they referred to one such expert-level meeting where Pakistan’s invitation was virtually withdrawn by India over objecting the map Pakistani delegation used during the preparatory meeting.

The map showed the whole of Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory, something India objected to.

Similarly, India has refused to send its cricket team to Pakistan for the Asia Cup later this year. Instead, India wants to move the Asian Cup out of Pakistan or intends to play at a neutral venue. This may create a situation where it would make it difficult for the Pakistan government to permit the Green Shirts to travel to India later this year for the 50-over World Cup.

There is already a proposal under consideration where Pakistan may play all its world cup matches in Bangladesh.

All this, according to the sources, reflected that the Indian government was not keen even to revive sporting ties let alone engaging with Pakistan on regional forums.

Nevertheless, the decision to attend the SCO ministerial meetings would be taken closer to the events. China will also have a say in Pakistan’s decision.

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