ISLAMABAD: An Indian delegation will be among those attending an anti-terrorism conference in Islamabad being held under the banner of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Pakistan’s Foreign Office said on Tuesday.
Pakistan will be hosting its first SCO meeting, since the country along with India became a member of the organisation in June 2017.
Experts from the eight SCO member states – China, Kazakhstan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan – as well as representatives of the SCO-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (SCO-RATS) will participate in the three-day meeting beginning on Wednesday, it said in a statement.
The legal experts will discuss the terror threat faced by the region and ways and means to enhance the counter-terror efforts.
“The Pakistan government is pleased to welcome delegations from the SCO member states,” it said.
The FO said that it supports SCO’s efforts for regional cooperation in fighting terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime.
“We are ready to share our experiences in tackling the menace of terrorism through the SCO-RATS,” according to the FO.
India’s presence at the meeting assumes significance since it had boycotted the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Islamabad in 2016 citing continuing support to cross-border terrorism from Pakistan.
SAARC summits are usually held biennially and hosted by a member state in alphabetical order. The member state hosting the summit assumes the Chair of the Association.
The last SAARC Summit in 2014 was held in Kathmandu, and the 2016 SAARC Summit was to be held in Islamabad. But after the terrorist attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on September 18 the same year, India expressed its inability to participate in the summit due to “prevailing circumstances” and stepped up diplomatic pressure on Pakistan. Nineteen Indian soldiers died in the attack.
The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to participate in the Islamabad meet. Maldives and Sri Lanka are the seventh and eighth members of the initiative.
The ties between India and Pakistan nosedived after Pakistan-based terror groups carried out a series of attacks in India in 2016.
India responded to the attacks by carrying out a surgical strike inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in September 2016. The death sentence handed down to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav by a military court in Pakistan in April last year caused a further deterioration in ties.
India has been maintaining that it will not engage in talks with Pakistan unless it stops cross-border terrorism.