Pakistan Reader# 592, 6 May 2023
On 5 May, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was greeted by his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of foreign ministers gathering. Jaishankar in his speech on his India neighbourhood first policy expressed concerns about cross-border terrorism and said: “The exception to this of course is Pakistan in view of the cross-border terrorism that it supports. But whether it is the COVID challenge or more recent debt pressures, India has always stepped up for its neighbours.”
Bhutto responded by urging that the issue of terrorism is a joint responsibility of all member states at the SCO meeting. He warned against the weaponisation of terrorism and said: “Let’s not get caught up in weaponising terrorism for diplomatic point scoring” and condemn all forms of terrorism including “state-sponsored” terrorism.” Bhutto stressed that there needs to be a collective approach to handle the issue of terrorism and address the various root causes and threats posed by certain groups. Furthermore, he iterated that the fight against terrorism should unite us rather than divide us and that there is a dire need to isolate the global issue of terrorism from geopolitics.
Additionally, the gathering discussed the human rights crisis in Afghanistan where since the Taliban regime takeover there has been an onslaught against women's rights. Jaishankar extended his concerns and said: “The unfolding situation in Afghanistan remains at the centre of our attention. Our efforts should be directed towards the welfare of the Afghan people.” He suggested that they could provide immediate support with humanitarian assistance to combat terrorism and protect women, children and minorities in the country. Bhutto expressed that the issue of Afghanistan is a new challenge and said: “After being the playground for great powers, time and time again, we owe it to the people of Afghanistan to not repeat the mistakes of the past.” and suggested that the international community should stress Aghan administrators to take initiatives and follow “universally accepted political inclusivity”, said Bhutto. The SCO meeting did not resolve the bilateral issue between Pakistan and India but it also did not further tense the relationship. Bhutto before leaving India said: “Both countries must not remain held hostage to history..We will create our own.”
“Bilawal asks SCO member states: ‘Deal with terrorism as a joint responsibility’,” Business Recorder, 6 May 2023
“Pakistan, India, Russia urge Taliban to respect rights of all Afghans,” The Express Tribune, 5 May 2023
Kamran Yousaf, “How hope turns into despair in Goa? ,” The Express Tribune, 5 May 2023