It should be noted that even at davos, Imran Khan didnâ€™t miss a chance to internationalise the Kashmir issue. (Photo Credit: File Photo)
In a move that is likely to further impact the already fragile bilateral equations between two nuclear neighbours, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is likely to skip the crucial SCO meet scheduled to be held in India later this year. According to an India Today report, Imran Khan has reportedly turned down India’s invite due to the ‘current environment’ between the subcontinental nations. However, there has been no official reaction on the report so far. India will be hosting the first ever SCO meet after induction in the high-profile group later this year. With its headquarters in Beijing, the other members of the group are China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Both India and Pakistan made entry into the grouping in 2017.
According to the India Today report, the final decision by the Pakistani administration will be taken only after Khan returns to the country post his Davos visit. It should be noted that even at the global event, Khan didn’t miss a chance to internationalise the Kashmir issue. New Delhi on its part slammed Islamabad for making ‘desperate’ attempts.
Speaking to mediapersons, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar observed that there was "nothing new" in what Imran Khan had said at the World Economic Forum meet in Davos, Switzerland. Khan had urged international powers - including the United Nations and the United States - to prevent a showdown between "two nuclear-armed countries". "You cannot have two nuclear-armed countries even contemplating a conflict," he said, claiming that there was every possibility of India trying to raise tensions at the border to "divert attention from domestic issues".
On January 16, India had formally acknowledged that Imran Khan will be invited for the SCO summit. "India will be hosting the heads of government summit later this year. As per established practice and procedure, all eight members and four observer states and other international dialogue partners will be invited... all eight members will be invited," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said when asked whether Imran Khan will be invited to the SCO Summit.
Since its inception in 2001, the SCO has mainly focused on regional security issues, its fight against regional terrorism, ethnic separatism and religious extremism. To date, the SCO’s priorities also include regional development. UN Secretary-General António Guterres attended the SCO Summit in 2017, that took place in Astana (Kazakhstan). UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed participated in the SCO Summit in 2018, in Qingdao (China).