ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday told a Senate panel that his visit to India to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) meeting proved productive and positive for Pakistan.
“As far as the Kashmir issue, bilateral issues between Pakistan and India and the responsibilities of multilateralism are concerned, my conclusion after the trip is that it is productive and positive decision to participate in the event” he said, while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs which met here with Senator Farooq H. Naek in the chair.
“We thought, we should project Pakistan’s case and point of view in front of not only Indian but the other participant countries,” he informed the committee. The minister said it was also decided not to provide an open opportunity to India. He said that it was a difficult decision to participate in the event and a lot of work was done by the Foreign Ministry to evolve consensus in that regard.
He said the second point that had been considered for attending the event was that all-weather friend of Pakistan, China and Russia were the founder of this organisation. He said that SCO had provided an opportunity to highlight Pakistan’s narrative as it was the Indian objective to abuse this important forum.
Belarussian Foreign Minister Aleinik due on two-day visit on 30th
He said Pakistan had effectively responded to the Indian narrative of linking terrorism with Pakistan, Muslims and Kashmiris. “The event provided an opportunity to make them understand that I am the son of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto who became a victim of terrorism. People of Pakistan are most affected by terrorism,” he added. He said that Pakistan wanted to fight terrorism in the best interest of the country.
The minister said that positive and productive meetings with all the foreign ministers of the members’ countries were held on the sideline of the event. He said it was decided before leaving for India not to hold bilateral meetings with Indian leadership due to the August 2019 unilateral decision of India. “It is our principled stance that we will not seek a meeting with our Indian counterpart,” he added.
He was of the view that the SCO meeting also provided an opportunity to interact with Indian people, senior anchors and media persons and counter the Indian narrative of linking terrorism with Pakistan and Muslims. He said that Pakistan would host the SCO conference in 2026-2027 and there was hope the Indian counterpart would attend the meeting.
Responding to a question, the minister said that soon after arriving from India at Karachi Airport, he effectively responded to the allegations of Indians in the SCO conference. He said that diplomatic channels had also been used to respond to the Indian allegations. Responding to a question regarding Afghanistan, he said a stable, prosperous and secure Afghanistan was in the interest of people of Afghanistan, Pakistan and other neighbouring countries.
Relations with neighbouring countries
He said that it was the request of the interim government of Afghanistan to address the core issue of TTP operating from its soil against Pakistan. He said that after the taking over of the interim Afghanistan government, terrorist attacks in Pakistan had increased. He said that issue of Afghanistan had also been discussed with the participants of the SCO conference during sideline meetings.
About relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran, he appreciated the role of China in bringing closer Saudi Arabia and Iran. “China has proved itself as super power and peacemaker” he added. He said that improved relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia would also bring a positive effect on Pakistan.
He said that the Indian decision to hold the Group of 20 Youth and Tourism convention in Indian-held Kashmir was condemnable. He said the holding of the meeting indicated that India did not care about the United Nations resolution. “You cannot dream of being a superpower by violating international laws and resolutions of the United Nations,” he added.
He said that during his stay in India, he told the Indians that they would not achieve 100 per cent participation because the meeting was being held in the disputed area. “I could not find a single international media report on the conference in Indian-occupied Jammu Kashmir confined to tourism and youth affairs. Every report discusses disputed areas and action of 2019 and Human Rights abuses,” he added.
Belarus FM official to visit Pakistan
Foreign Minister of the Republic of Belarus, Sergei Aleinik, will arrive here on a two-day official visit on May 30, at the invitation of Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.
As foreign office reported, the two leaders will hold wide-ranging conversations covering a range of topics of bilateral interest. They will undertake an overview of bilateral relations and explore enhanced cooperation in political, economic, defence and science and technology domains.
Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2023