India on Thursday said it would extend an invitation to Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan to participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) heads of government meet in India in October.
The statement by Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar comes on a day when Pakistan unsuccessfully tried to raise the Kashmir issue at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) through its all-weather friend China.
The Indian move shows New Delhi will not let its tensions with Pakistan stand in the way of its engagement other nations at multilateral fora such as the China and Russia led SCO.
Earlier on Thursday, Kumar slammed Pakistan for trying to “misuse" the UNSC forum “for discussing a bilateral matter".
“The overwhelming majority of the UNSC members were of the view that UNSC was not the right forum for such issues (Kashmir dispute) and this should be discussed bilaterally between India and Pakistan," he said.
“The informal closed-door meeting, therefore, concluded without any outcome. It once again highlighted that Pakistan’s desperate measures to peddle baseless allegations and present an alarming scenario lacked any credibility," Kumar said. “We sincerely hope that the message has gone across loud and clear to Pakistan that if at all there is any matter between India and Pakistan that needs to be discussed, it should be discussed bilaterally. Pakistan can avoid this global embarrassment time and again by putting its energy in something constructive," he said.
Attempts by China to have informal discussions on Kashmir at the UNSC late on Wednesday resulted in the country standing isolated in the Pakistani corner, while others including France and Russia backed India.
Kumar had some words of advice for China as well given that this was the third attempt by Beijing to ensure a discussion on Kashmir discussed at the UNSC. One attempt in August resulted in a meeting without any resolution or statement. A second attempt in December had to be postponed as the UN peacekeeping mission to India and Pakistan was not ready to provide a brief, Reuters had quoted UN-based diplomats as saying.
“China should seriously reflect on this global consensus, draw the proper lessons and refrain from taking such action in future," Kumar said. India had been engaging China on this subject of backing Pakistan on Kashmir and this had been done multiple times at several levels, he said.
Kumar said the SCO meeting that India is expected to host later this year “is held annually at the prime minister’s level and it discusses the SCO’s programme and participation in multilateral economic and trade cooperation."
“All eight members of SCO, as well as four observer states and other international dialogue partners, will be invited to attend the meeting," Kumar said when asked whether Khan will be invited.
Ties between India and Pakistan nosedived last year after a terrorist belonging to the Jaish e Mohammed carried out a suicide bombing that killed 40 Indian paramilitary personnel in February. A few days later, India bombed a training camp of the group inside Pakistan to which Islamabad responded targeting Indian military installations in Kashmir. The Indian Air Force repulsed the attack.
Ties dipped further after India revoked Article 370 of its Constitution, which had given special status to Kashmir and integrated it more closely with India in August.