Pakistan FM Bhutto On India’s SCO Chairmanship In 2023: “No Decision On Participation Yet”

Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on Friday that no decision had been taken about Islamabad’s participation in the next Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit that will be chaired by India in 2023.

“There is no decision yet on Pakistan’s participation in the next SCO summit,” Bhutto, who is in Samarkand to attend the SCO summit chaired by Uzbekistan this year, said while speaking to ANI. India will take over as the chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) next year from Uzbekistan, which is hosting the ongoing summit.

While Pakistan remained non-committal, China has congratulated India as it is set to host the SCO summit next year. During a meeting of the expanded circle of the Heads of SCO in Samarkand, Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated India for the SCO Presidency next year in 2023.

“I congratulate India for hosting the SCO next year,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a statement during the summit.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is among the top world leaders who are presently in Samarkand and has held meetings with leaders of several important countries.

While addressing the leaders at the 22nd Summit of the Council of Heads of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States (SCO-CoHS), Modi said that India is set to take an initiative for a new SCO working group on traditional medicines.

The SCO Summit usually has 2 sessions – a restricted session, only for the SCO member states, and then an extended session which includes participation by observers and special invitees.

The SCO Member States, Observers, Special Guests of the Chair and representatives from regional organisations come together for a meeting in the expanded format.

Notably, this is the first in-person SCO Summit after the Covid pandemic hit the world. The last in-person SCO Heads of State Summit was held in Bishkek in June 2019.

The SCO currently comprises eight Member States (China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), four Observer States interested in acceding to full membership (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia) and six “Dialogue Partners” (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey).

The Shanghai Five, formed in 1996, became the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in 2001 with the inclusion of Uzbekistan. With India and Pakistan entering the grouping in 2017 and the decision to admit Tehran as a full member in 2021, SCO became one of the largest multilateral organisations, accounting for nearly 30 per cent of the global GDP and 40 per cent of the world’s population.

SCO has potential in various new sectors, wherein all the member-states could find converging interests. India has already pushed hard for cooperation in Startups and Innovation, Science and Technology and Traditional Medicine.

From the time of its full membership, India made sincere efforts to encourage peace, prosperity, and stability of the whole Eurasian region in general and SCO member countries in particular. (ANI)

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