Rama Krishna Sangem
Pakistan foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is under pressure to skip his visit to India to attend to SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation)’s ministerial meeting at Goa on May 4, 5. “If it is only for a hands shake, he (Bhutto) need not go to India,” says a section of media in Pakistan. However, Bilawal as of now, is coming to India for this meeting.
Pakistan has asked for a brief yet purposeful meeting with Indian foreign minister Dr S Jaishankar on the sidelines of Goa meeting. This meeting is expected to pave way for a summit level meeting of Pak PM Shebaz Sberif in New Delhi in July. Currently, India is the chair of SCO. Initially, India was open to this proposal, but after the recent Poonch terror attack on an army vehicle which claimed lives of five jawans, the situation changed.
India has communicated to Pakistan officials that no separate meeting between Jaishankar and Bilawal may not be possible at this stage. India believes that the Poonch attack was planned and executed by Jaish e Mumahmmad backed PAFF (People’s Anti-Fascist Force), a terror outfit, which also claimed responsibility to it. “Until and unless Pak stops its soil for terror attacks on India, a dialogue with any of its government functionaries is possible,” is our stand.
Pressure to go for video-conference
After India ruled out a separate meeting with Bilawal, there has been pressure on him to either stay away from SCO meeting or join it through video-conference. This is the general line of advice to him from both the opposition Imra Khan’s party as well as a section of media experts. “If it is just a hands-shake and some photo ops, there is no need to go all the way (to Goa),” is the line of some columnists.
Till April 28, Bilawal hasn’t changed his mind on going to Goa, but the absence of Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Mhammed Asif at SCO defence ministers meeting in Delhi on April 27 and 28 supports the possibility of Bhutto Zardari’s skipping of the Goa event. India cut its relations with Pakistan after Uri attack in 206, while Pakistan downgraded ites ties with India after abrogation of Article 370 in 2019.