Pakistan on Thursday announced it's decision to skip the meeting of Chief Justices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) scheduled in New Delhi from March 10-12, reported The Express Tribune.
"As one of the active members of the SCO, Pakistan regularly participates in all SCO activities and constructively contributes to their outcomes," Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said in a statement.
Pakistan is the only country now that will be skipping the SCO Chief Justice meet hosted by India. All other members, including new member, Iran will be attending the meeting in person.
"Due to his unavoidable commitments on the scheduled meeting dates, the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan will not be able to participate in the SCO meeting of the Chief Justices of the Supreme Courts scheduled from 10-12 March, 2023. He has accordingly conveyed his regrets to his Indian counterpart, who is the current chair/host of the meeting," the statement added.
India extended the invitation to the Pakistani chief justice, but Islamabad took the decision at the last minute about the country's top adjudicator, reported The Express Tribune.
India is the current president of the SCO, which also comprises China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
As president of the regional forum, India is set to host a series of events, including the meeting of chief justices of the member states.
Though the Foreign Office statement cited unavoidable commitments of the chief justice, observers believe that the current state of the relationship between Pakistan and India played a part in Islamabad's decision, reported The Express Tribune.
India has also invited Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari for the SCO foreign ministers meeting to be held in Goa in May this year. Pakistan has yet to decide whether the foreign minister will attend.
"Regarding participation in the upcoming SCO Council of Foreign Ministers, as I have said earlier, the matter is under consideration and, as and when this decision is taken, we will share it with everyone," she told reporters at the weekly news briefing.
India will also host the SCO summit meeting this year. It remains to be seen whether Pakistan will send its foreign minister in May or if the prime minister will join the SCO leaders later in India.
Relations between the two countries have been precarious for many years with regard to issues of cross-border terrorism from Pakistan, even as Islamabad has been seeking the restoration of Article 370 for the former Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir for any talks. (ANI)