Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Bilawal Bhutto is scheduled to attend the conference of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a forum of South and Southeast Asian nations led by China, on Friday.
“I look forward to engaging bilaterally with those countries which are part of this organization,’’ Bhutto said in a video he shared on social media before his departure.
Though no bilateral meeting between Pakistani and Indian ministers is scheduled, analysts said the visit could be an ice-breaking opportunity to lower tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
Islamabad last month decided to send its diplomat to India, ignoring objections by right-wing political and Islamic groups.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was the last Pakistani leader to visit India in 2014 to attend the swearing-in ceremony of his counterpart Narendra Modi.
Bhutto’s visit marked the first diplomatic contact since an Indian airstrike in Pakistan in 2019 that targeted militants allegedly fighting in the disputed region of Kashmir.
Pakistan’s air force responded by drowning an intruding Indian fighter jet and arresting the pilot, who was released a few days later.
Pakistan degraded diplomatic ties, suspended bilateral trade and halted cross-border transport services following clashes between the rivals, and had fought three wars over the Kashmir region.
Kashmir, a mountainous Himalayan valley, is controlled in parts by India and Pakistan, but both claim the territory in its entirety. (dpa/NAN)