Pakistan skips SCO meet after Indian objection to inaccurate map
The matter was raised by the Indian side, including the external affairs ministry, as Pakistani officials had used similar maps at an earlier SCO meeting, people familiar with the matter said.
Pakistan on Tuesday didn’t participate in a conference of military medicine specialists in the Indian capital under the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) framework after the Indian side objected to the use of maps incorrectly depicting the country’s borders, especially for Kashmir.
The matter was raised by the Indian side, including the external affairs ministry, as Pakistani officials had used similar maps at an earlier SCO meeting, people familiar with the matter said. India is hosting a series of official and ministerial meetings ahead of the SCO Summit that is expected to be held in July.
The Pakistani side was using maps that showed Kashmir as part of the neighbouring country, an issue that has impacted SCO meetings in recent years, the people said.
Pakistan was to attend the conference of think tanks with the theme “SCO Armed Forces Contribution in Military Medicine, Healthcare and Pandemics” at an official level. Following the objection from the Indian side, the Pakistani side did not participate, according to one of the people cited above.
The Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) hosted the conference at a hotel in New Delhi. The people said Tuesday’s development is not expected to impact other planned meetings under the SCO framework.
“At an event in the run-up to Tuesday’s seminar, the Pakistani delegation used a wrong map that showed Kashmir as part of Pakistan. After the matter came to the external affairs ministry’s notice, the Pakistani side was asked to show the correct map or to stay away from the seminar. The delegation chose to stay away,” said another person.
The objective of the seminar was to exchange best practices in the fields of military medicine, health care and combating pandemics. The theme was chosen on the basis of contributions made by different armed forces over the past two-and-a-half years in countering Covid-19 by providing isolation wards, emergency health care equipment, and assisting in vaccination programmes in remote areas.
Since the armed forces of SCO states are usually among the first responders in dealing with such issues, a conference of think tanks was planned to focus on how the eight members of the grouping can respond to future challenges, officials said.
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in September 2020, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval walked out of a virtual meeting of top SCO security officials after the Pakistani representative projected a map that inaccurately depicted the borders of the two countries.
At the time, the external affairs ministry accused the Pakistani side of deliberately using a “fictitious map that Pakistan” had been propagating. The Indian side also formally protested over the matter to Russia, which chaired the SCO in 2020, saying it amounted to a blatant violation of the grouping’s charter and went against all norms for safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states.
India is set to host the SCO defence ministers’ meeting in April and the SCO foreign ministers’ meeting in May.