Karachi, May 25, 2023 (PPI-OT): Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Thursday informed the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs that decision to participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) summit held in the Indian city of Goa 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.
“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. Bilawal 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. The minister said that former Foreign Secretaries, leaders of allied parties and other stakeholders had been taken on board for their feedback regarding participation in the event in India.
“SCO is a multilateral forum and it provided opportunities to hold meetings with the world leadership and project Pakistan’s point of view on various points,” he added. Bilawal 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 organization. He said that SCO had provided an opportunity to highlight Pakistan’s narrative as it was the Indian objective to abuse this important forum.
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 side-line 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.
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 side-line 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-Occupied 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. The minister said that India failed to give impression of normalcy in Kashmir.
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