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India invites Pak Foreign Minister for regional meet in May: Source

Islamabad: Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has received an invitation from India for a regional meet, though Islamabad is yet to take a decision, as per a source here.

An invitation has also been sent to China’s new Foreign Minister Qin Gang, the source informed Wednesday.

Besides Pakistan and China, the eight-member SCO grouping includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The invitation was reportedly delivered by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, days after Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif called for talks with India over all outstanding issues, saying “we have learned our lesson”.

Just a month ago, comments by Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of a UN Security Council meeting sparked anger and protests in India. India called Bilawal Zardari’s comments “uncivilised”.

If Pakistan accepts, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would be its first foreign minister to visit India after a gap of nearly 12 years.

In November 2021, New Delhi invited Pakistan for a meeting of National Security Advisors on Afghanistan in Delhi. Islamabad turned down the invite, accusing India of playing a negative role in Afghanistan. “I will not go. I am not going. A spoiler can’t become a peacemaker,” Pakistan’s then National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf had said.

India-Pakistan ties have been strained since the terror attack on the Pathankot Air Force base in 2016. Subsequent attacks, including one on an Indian Army camp in Uri, added to the strain.

In 2019, days after over 40 security personnel were killed in a terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama, India launched air strikes targeting terror training camps in Pakistan’s Balakot. This was followed by an aerial dogfight between the two nations.

India insists that talks and terror cannot go hand-in-hand and Pakistan needs to dismantle all the terror camps operating from its soil.


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