ISLAMABAD: India has invited Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Atta Bandial and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to attend meetings of a key regional forum that also includes Russia and China, Express Tribune reported.
India currently holds the presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) which comprises Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran and Central Asian States. As president of the SCO, New Delhi is set to host a series of events, including a conference of the chief justices of member states, meeting of the foreign ministers and a summit in 2023.
The meeting of chief justices of the SCO is scheduled for March while the foreign ministers will meet in May.
Official sources confirmed to The Express Tribune on Monday that India shared the invitations with Pakistan for Chief Justice Umar Atta Bandial and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
It is, however, not clear whether the chief justice and the foreign minister will attend both the events or depute someone to represent Pakistan. Pakistan hasn’t yet responded to the Indian invite, according to sources, the report said.
Given the SCO is an important forum because of the presence of China and Russia, Pakistan is unlikely to stay out of the events, the report added.
Both Pakistan and India were accepted as full members of the influential organisation a few years back after they committed not to undermine the SCO work because of their bilateral disputes.
The meeting of the SCO foreign ministers is due to take place in Goa, a tourist destination in South India.
If the chief justice and the foreign minister travel to India for both the events, that would be seen as significant and would be first high-profile visits from Pakistan in many years.