SCO FMs’ moot

Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto has returned home from attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Goa. As expected, he did not do the impossible, and achieve any sort of breakthrough in Indo-Pak relations, but his contact with his host and Indian counterpart S. Jaishankar, who greeted him on his arrival, was a first. Though Mr Jaishankar avoided a sidelines meeting, still Mr Bhutto managed to convey Pakistan’s concern at the escalation of tensions caused by India’s abolition of the special status of Indian-Occupied Kashmir, just as Mr Jaishankar referred disparagingly to Pakistan during his address at the meeting. The sideline meetings focused on the heavyweights at the moot, Russia and China. Mr Bhutto Zardari met Russian counterpart Mr Sergei Lavrov, while Mr Jaishankar not only met Mr Lavrov, but also his Chinese counterpart.

India’s having hosted the meeting shows that the situation in the region is complex. Not only is India an old ally of Russia, it is also an old opponent of China. Meeting his chinese counterpart was Mr Jaishankar’s way of passing on a message to Pakistan, though his failure to meet him was an indication of how bankrupt his government’s policy is, of refusing to engage with Pakistan. Mr Bhutto Zardari was correct to speak of the use of the organization not just as a cooperation organization, but a security organization.

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However, it should be noted that than organization which was conceived as one in which to corporate against terrorism, when the USA was in Afghanistan for this very reason, is in grave danger of losing its direction when one of its most important member, India, not only accuses a neighbour and another member, Pakistan, of fomenting indigenous movements against it, but itself uses its own intelligence operatives (like Kulbhushan Jhadav) to foment terrorism there. As long as India goes on behaving irresponsibly, no international organization of which it is a member will be effective against terror, not so long as the size of the Indian market remains a bigger consideration than human lives. The SCO does not have to be the forum at which Indo-Pak ties are normalized, as that can only be done at a bilateral level. However, India must perceive that its baseless accusations of terrorism, and its own covert back of a neighbour’s destablization, will it only not be tolerated any longer, but could lead to consequences. It is within this context that Mr Bhutto Zardari’s trip must be seen.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].


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