ISLAMABAD—Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, is set to lead a delegation to the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) foreign ministers meeting in Goa, India, on 4th and 5th May. Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, a spokeswoman for Pakistan’s foreign ministry, made the announcement at a media briefing in Islamabad, confirming that the invitation to the meeting came from India’s Minister for External Affairs, Dr. S Jaishankar, who is currently the chairman of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers.
Baloch went on to state that Pakistan’s attendance at the meeting demonstrated its commitment to the principles and processes outlined in the SCO Charter, as well as its continued focus on the region as a priority within its foreign policy. She also affirmed that Pakistan has always been committed to participating in SCO meetings, having maintained this commitment as part of its longstanding pledge to the organisation.
India has been a full member of the SCO since 2017, having assumed the rotating presidency of the organisation in 2022 at the summit held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. This year, India will host the next summit of the Council of Heads of State, which is a significant event in the SCO’s annual calendar.
The SCO has eight member countries, including India, China, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. In addition, it has four observer states that are interested in acceding to full membership, such as Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia. The organisation also has six Dialogue Partners, which include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Turkey.
Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s attendance at the meeting is noteworthy, as it marks the first visit by a prominent Pakistani leader to India since former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to New Delhi for the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014. Furthermore, he will be the first Pakistani foreign minister to visit India since Hina Rabbani Khar’s trip in July 2011.