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Monday June 17, 2024

Participation in SCO summit helped counter Indian propaganda: Bilawal

By Asim Yasin
May 26, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari told the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs on Thursday that his visit to India for the SCO summit was productive as he grabbed the opportunity to counter India’s narrative.

He expressed his satisfaction with the outcomes of the summit and the opportunity it provided for meaningful exchanges with fellow SCO member states, except India with which Pakistan decided not to seek any bilateral exchanges during the summit.

The meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs was held on Thursday at the Parliament House under the chair of Senator Farooq Hamid Naek. Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari gave a detailed briefing to the committee on Pakistan’s diplomatic, economic, peace & security and strategic objectives achieved through participation in the recent SCO Council of Foreign Ministers meeting held in India.

He said after extensive discussions and consultations with several former foreign secretaries of Pakistan, a consensus was reached to attend the summit. “We chose to present our case through this platform and prevent India from taking advantage of an open field,” asserted Bilawal. The foreign minister claimed that India, as the host country, aimed to exploit the opportunity to propagate its version of terrorism against Pakistan. “By being present at the forum, I had the opportunity to counter India’s narrative and remind the participants and the world of Pakistan’s status as the most-affected country by terrorism,” he said.

The foreign minister highlighted the importance of engaging in constructive dialogue, even with countries that have divergent views, in order to foster understanding and explore avenues of cooperation. Briefing the committee, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari strongly condemned the Indian decision to hold a G-20 tourism working group meeting in the illegally occupied region of Jammu and Kashmir. He termed the Indian scheme as condemnable, offensive, and obnoxious.

The foreign minister highlighted that India’s objective of achieving 100 percent attendance for the meeting was not realized, as several countries did not participate, while others downgraded their level of representation. If India intended to showcase normalcy through this meeting, it failed miserably, as it could not find any international articles or news stories promoting tourism or normalcy in the disputed territory, said the foreign minister.

Replying to a question on taking up the TTP issue with Afghanistan, Bilawal said that Pakistan maintained an ongoing engagement with the interim government of Afghanistan and added that a stable and peaceful Afghanistan was crucial for the well-being of the people of Pakistan and the entire region. The foreign minister underlined that Pakistan’s aspiration for regional integration and establishment of a trade corridor with Central Asia could only be realized if there was lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. When asked about the Saudi-Iran rapprochement and its impact on Pakistan, Bilawal said Pakistan warmly welcomed this positive development. He stated that Pakistan had consistently advocated for dialogue as means to address and resolve all outstanding issues between Muslim countries. The minister also lauded the peacemaking role played by China in facilitating and promoting this reconciliation process. “By endorsing and supporting the Saudi-Iran rapprochement, Pakistan reaffirms its commitment to fostering peaceful relations among Muslim nations and promoting stability in the region,” he said. The committee discussed the point of public importance raised by Senator Prince Ahmed Umer Ahmedzai concerning a letter issued by the section officer of the Foreign Office, declaring that parliamentarians could not be appointed as honorary consul generals. The foreign secretary provided an explanation, stating that according to the rules established in 2005, parliamentarians were prohibited from serving as honorary consul generals due to potential conflicts of interest.