After Shehbaz Sharif's 'peace' remark, India invites Pakistan's foreign minister
India has invited Pakistan's Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to participate in a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to be held in Goa in May. This comes as Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called for peace saying that the country learned its lesson after three wars with India. Last month, India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said India wants good neighborly relations.
Why does this story matter?
- The cordial gesture comes amid strained Indo-Pak relations, which have nosedived over the last decade following allegations of Pakistan harboring terror elements.
- Former US secretary Mike Pompeo's recent book claims that India and Pakistan were on the brink of a nuclear war following the 2019 Balakot airstrike.
- If Pakistan accepts the invitation, it will mark its foreign minister's visit to India after 12 years.
SCO meeting possible in May first week
The invitation was sent by India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to its Pakistani counterpart through the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, along with the other member countries of the SCO including China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The potential dates for the meeting of foreign ministers are May 4 and 5, as per a report by The Indian Express.
2015 meeting canceled after minister asked not to meet Hurriyat
Meanwhile, the Chinese and Russian foreign ministers have been invited to India for a G-20 meeting on March 1 and 2. Pakistan's former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar visited India in 2011. India invited Pakistan's former foreign minister Sartaj Aziz in 2015, but the meeting was called off after Sushma Swaraj, then foreign minister of India, urged him to avoid meeting the Hurriyat.
Invitation in line with India's Neighborhood First Policy: Official
A top official said the move was in adherence to India's policy of 'Neighbourhood First'. India's position has been consistent that any issue between the countries must be solved through peaceful dialogue. The official said the onus of creating a conducive and terror-free atmosphere lies with Pakistan. He said India has clarified its position on issues concerning national security and territorial integrity.