Amid deteriorating ties between India and Pakistan that has been pushed to a new low following the death sentence Pakistan handed to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav, a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif is likely on cards on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana this June, a Pakistani media report has said.
According to Pakistan’s news website The Express Tribune, influential members the six-member SCO grouping are pushing for India and Pakistan to re-engage in order to ensure that the next summit is held in a conducive environment.
The report, while citing diplomatic sources, said that both the South Asian nations were admitted to the SCO on the condition that they will work together to improve bilateral ties as well as promote the interest of the organisation.
That was one of the main reasons that both Prime Minister Modi and Sharif met in Ufa, Russia, at the sidelines of SCO summit in 2015, it said.
“It is very much possible,” a senior Pakistani official said when asked about the possibility of a meeting between Sharif and Modi at the margins of the SCO summit in Astana in June.
The official said that Pakistan did not want the issue of Kulbhushan Jadhav, sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court, to undermine the overall bilateral engagement process with India.
"As has been the case in the past, the two nuclear- tipped neighbours may bring yet another surprise, as Foreign Office officials and diplomatic sources do not rule out the possibility of a meeting between the PMs of the two countries in June," the report said.
At the forthcoming summit of the SCO, which comprises countries such as Russia, China and Central Asian states, Pakistan and India will be formally admitted as full members.
Meanwhile, another Pakistani daily The News International, in an editorial, said that there seems to be ‘very little scope’ for an immediate improvement in Indo-Pak ties.
Prime Minster Modi had initiated the process of engagement with a hope for better ties soon after he swept to power at the Centre. He invited Sharif to his swearing-in ceremony and followed it up with a surprise visit to Pakistan. However, the bonhomie put forth by the two leaders came crashing down when Pakistan-based militants attacked an Indian Army base in Pathankot and Uri subsequently.
Relations between the two sides have been on the downhill ever since. While Pakistan continues to be in denial over state-sponsored terrorism, India has left no stone unturned to isolate the disturbed neighbour internationally.
A proposed dialogue between the two countries has also been indefinitely stalled as India insists Pakistan first act credibly on terror being perpetrated from its soil before it has any meaningful discussions. The sentencing of Kulbhushan Jadhav on unsubstantiated espionage charges and Pakistan’s denial to even allow India consular access to him have only pushed relations to an all-time low.