hi INDiA Copyright 2022
By Hamza Ameer
Islamabad, Aug 17 (IANS) A meeting between Pakistan Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chinese President Xi Jinping is on the cards during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, scheduled for September 15-16 in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, diplomatic sources have confirmed.
Since taking office in April, Sharif is yet to embark on a trip to China, something that is seen as very unusual given the fact that Beijing has been one of the top priority destinations for any new government set-up in Islamabad in the past.
While many believe that the reason is due to the strict Covid-19 protocols being followed by Chinese government, the cause of the delay however may not only be limited to just the pandemic.
However, the Prime Minister may get the opportunity now to have a one-on-one meeting with the Chinese President on the sidelines of the upcoming summit.
While rumours about the alleged meeting are already doing the rounds, the two sides are yet to officially confirm it.
There is also no certainty that Xi will be present at the summit in person as many have said they he might only virtually address it.
The SCO summit holds great importance as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also be in attendance.
The diplomatic sources have said that Pakistan is also working towards an opportunity for a bilateral meeting between Putin and Sharif.
India will be taking over the seat of presidency of the SCO while a courtesy call between Modi and Sharif is expected on the sidelines.
“Despite initial optimism for some kind of thaw after the change of government in Pakistan, there has been no indication of any positive movement on the bilateral front,” said one of the sources.
The optimism seems a bleak possibility as there was no official communication between the two neighbours on their respective Independence Days.
But soldiers from both sides exchanged sweets and gifts at the border.
India-Pakistan relations have been at their lowest since 2019, when the Modi government at the Centre abolished Article 370 and 35A that changed the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
But despite tensions, Pakistan has shown its willingness towards taking part in the multinational counter-terrorism drills in India in October.
If that happens, it is going to be the first time that Pakistan would be sending its contingent to India.