India invites Pakistan defence minister to SCO meeting

ISLAMABAD – India has invited Defence Minister Khawaja Asif to attend the meeting of the Shangai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to be held in New Delhi in April.

The SCO is a key regional forum comprising Pakistan, China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and India. It focuses primarily on the areas of trade, finance, commerce and socio-economic cooperation among the SCO member states. Currently, Indian holds the presidency of the forum and it will organise a series of events this year.

Reports said Indian government has shared the formal invitation with the Foreign Office of Pakistan.

Earlier, Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial skipped a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) that was held in New Delhi from March 10 till March 12 due to “unavoidable commitments”.

In January, amid the heightened hostilities between Islamabad and New Delhi, the Indian government had invited Pakistan’s top judge to attend meetings of the chief justices of the SCO countries.

“Due to his unavoidable commitments on the scheduled meeting dates, the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan will not be able to participate in the SCO meeting of the Chief Justices of the Supreme Courts scheduled from 10-12 March, 2023,” reports quoted Pakistan’s reply to the India.

India has also invited Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to the SCO foreign ministers meeting scheduled to be held in Goa in May.