MUMBAI: According to Indian media on Wednesday, India has extended an invitation to Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to attend a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) that it is holding in May, indicating a potential warming of relations between the nuclear-armed foes.
Following a request for negotiations with India over all outstanding issues, including the illegally occupied region of Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif extended the invitation.
Just one month earlier, Bilawal’s remarks about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the margins of a UN Security Council meeting sparked public riots in India. India referred to the foreign minister’s remarks as being “uncivilized.”
Requests from Reuters for comments on the media claims that Bilawal had been invited to the SCO foreign ministers meeting being held in Goa went unanswered right away by the foreign ministry spokespersons for the two nations.
China, India, Russia, Pakistan, and four Central Asian nations make up the SCO.
The Indian High Commission in Islamabad reportedly delivered the invitation, according to the Indian Express newspaper.
If Pakistan agrees, Bilawal would travel to India for the first time in almost 12 years as its foreign minister.
Since 1947, when they gained independence from British rule, Pakistan and India have fought three wars. Two of the wars had their origins in the partitioned Kashmir area of the Himalayas.
India charges Pakistan with fomenting the long-running uprising in Kashmir, which is largely under its control. Pakistan refutes the charge made by India.
When India unilaterally abolished Kashmir’s autonomous status, tensions erupted once more in late 2019. The actions of New Delhi, according to PM Shehbaz, led to “flagrant” human rights breaches there.
However, there have been some efforts to restart negotiations through covert diplomacy following the suspension of official talks between the two nations. The United Arab Emirates mediated the previous effort in 2021, and PM Shehbaz has once more enlisted their help to help restart negotiations with India.