Pak PM likely to send minister in his place to SCO meet in India

New Delhi/Islamabad (IANS) Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is likely to send a member of his government in his place to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in New Delhi later this year.

The government in New Delhi on Thursday said that as a host, India will invite all the eight members and four observer states of the SCO for the meeting. "India will be hosting the heads of government summit later this year. As per established practice and procedure, all eight members and four observer states and other international dialogue partners will be invited," said External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.

The SCO is an economic and security bloc with China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Pakistan as members. The organization headed by China was founded in 2001. India and Pakistan were given membership three years ago.

Top sources in Islamabad, however, said that Khan is likely to send a junior minister in his place. "Given the deterioration in India-Pakistan relationship since the airstrikes at Balakot terror camp in Pakistan, Prime Minister Khan will find it very hard to justify his visit to India. He will skip the SCO meeting. Most likely, he will send his foreign minister," a top source told IANS.

In the last SCO summit which was hosted by Kyrgyzstan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had censured Pakistan indirectly, in the presence of Prime Minister Imran Khan, for sponsoring, aiding and supporting terrorism. Modi had also sought international cooperation in the war against terror.

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