Pakistan’s foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, has received an invitation from India to join the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) foreign ministers meeting in Goa. After saying in an interview that Pakistan has learned from its three wars with India and wishes to have a good bond with its neighbour, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif took this action.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was referred to as the “butcher of Gujarat” in remarks made by Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari just one month earlier, which sparked street protests in India. India referred to Bilawal’s remarks as “uncivilised.”
India’s response to Pakistan’s conditional offer of talks was that regular neighbourly ties can only exist in the absence of terrorism and violence. On the fringes of UN sessions in New York in December, Bhutto Zardari and external affairs minister S. Jaishankar got into a verbal duel over terrorism and Kashmir.
India has invited leaders and dignitaries from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to meetings of the eight-member grouping in the upcoming months. Among them are the Pakistani foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Chief Justice Umar Atta Bandial.
According to sources familiar with the situation, the external affairs ministry recently sent invitations to Bhutto Zardari and other SCO foreign ministers, notably the Qin Gang of China.
According to them, Bhutto Zardari received an invitation from the Indian high commission in Islamabad to the foreign ministers’ conference, which is scheduled to take place in Goa the first week of May.
An invitation for the gathering of Chief Justices of SCO states, which India will host in March, was also sent to the office of the Pakistani Chief Justice. According to individuals aware of the situation in Islamabad, there has still been no formal confirmation from the Pakistani side as to whether Bhutto Zardari and Bandial will attend the meetings.