India, Pak hostility shadows SCO summit, both sides mum on a possible meeting

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif are likely to attend the two-day meeting in kazakhstan but both sides are silent on a possible meeting

india Updated: Jun 01, 2017 18:29 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Jayanth Jacob
HT Correspondent, New Delhi
India,Pakistan,SCO summit
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif ahead of bilateral talks in Russia’s Ufa in 2015.(File photo)

The growing hostility between India and Pakistan is threatening to cast a shadow on the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit to be hosted by Kazakhstan on June 8 and 9.

Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif are likely to attend the two-day meeting in Astana in which India and Pakistan are to be inducted as the seventh and eighth members of the grouping led by China and Russia.

It will be the first time in several months that Modi and Sharif will be at the same event but both sides are silent on a possible meeting.

It was exactly two years ago that the two met in Ufa, Russia on the sidelines of an SCO summit, setting out a roadmap for normalising ties, the plan that never took off.

In fact, ties have worsened over the time.

“The Pakistan army is playing a more emphatic role in its India policy. Everything possible is being done to spoil the ties on various fronts. As of now, there are no request from Pakistan side for any meeting”, an Indian official said.

Pakistan says the same – India has not sought a meeting. For that to happen, the two prime ministers will have to walk the extra mile and show political will.

Cross-border terrorism, ceasefire violations along the line of control and the biggest of all – the death sentence awarded to Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former naval officer, by a Pakistani military court will make it difficult for Modi to make a move to ease the tensions.

An assertive army and the next year’s election do not leave Sharif much flexibility in dealing with India.

Established in 2001, SCO aims to tackle terrorism and promote political, economic and cultural cooperation throughout the region. Once India and Pakistan are inducted, the Eurasian bloc will account for 40% of the world’s population.

Some member countries are worried about ties between the two neighbours hampering SCO.

The forum calls for greater coordination among the armies and intelligence agencies. Given the mistrust, it remains to be seen how India and Pakistan will come together under the SCO banner.

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are the other SCO members.


First Published: May 24, 2017 11:36 IST