Pakistan NSA rules out meeting with Indian counterpart on margins of SCO meeting
Pakistan National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf has ruled out the possibility of a meeting with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval on the margins of a meeting of top security officials of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) states in Tajikistan this week.
Doval and Yusuf are set to attend the in-person meeting of the secretaries of the security council of the eight SCO member states in Dushanbe during June 22-23, and this had triggered speculation about a meeting between the two officials against the backdrop of back-channel contacts between India and Pakistan.
“There is absolutely no possibility of any bilateral meeting with Indian counterpart at SCO,” Yusuf was quoted as saying by Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.
At the last virtual meeting of NSAs of SCO member states in September 2020, Doval walked out after Yusuf projected a map that inaccurately depicted the borders of the two countries and included several Indian regions within Pakistan. At the time, Yusuf was special adviser to Pakistan’s prime minister on national security. He was formally appointed the NSA earlier this year.
Yusuf said he would meet his counterparts from Russia, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in Dushanbe.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi have been in the same country at the same time twice in recent months, including the Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan in Dushanbe in March, but did not hold a bilateral meeting. In April, Jaishankar and Qureshi had visited the United Arab Emirates at the same time.
Following a series of back-channel contacts between Indian and Pakistani security officials, the two countries recommitted themselves to the 2003 ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC) in February. The truce has largely held, helping to ease bilateral tensions, though recent reports have suggested the back-channel contacts have stalled.
The SCO meet in Dushanbe will conclude a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s planned meeting with political leaders from Jammu and Kashmir on June 24 – the first such gathering since the government scrapped the region’s special status in August 2019.
Pakistan has also issued several strong statements in recent weeks about what it claims were the Indian government’s plans to carry out more changes in Jammu and Kashmir. India has rejected these statements, noting that Kashmir is an integral part of the country and Pakistan’s comments amounted to interference in internal affairs.
There was no official word on the possibility of a meeting between the Indian and Chinese NSAs at Dushanbe. The military standoff between the two countries at the Line of Actual Control has continued for more than a year despite several rounds of military and diplomatic talks.
The meeting of the NSAs of SCO states is expected to focus on the rapidly evolving security situation in Afghanistan ahead of the drawdown of US forces and cooperation under the Regional Anti-Terror Structure (RATS). Besides India, Pakistan and China, SCO includes Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.