CJP Bandial will not attend SCO meeting in India, says Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD, MAR 10 (DNA) — The Chief Justice of Pakistan will not participate in a meeting of the chief justices of supreme courts of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s member countries going to be held in India from Friday.

According to Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zehra Baloch, Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial will not participate in the CJs Meeting of SCO member countries starting from March10-12 in India.

She said Pakistan is an active member country of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and regularly participates in its activities. Pakistan has always been involved in the organization’s affairs. But owing to some unavoidable reasons, the Chief Justice of Pakistan will not be able to participate in the meeting on the scheduled dates, the spokesperson added.

Ms Baloch said that the Chief Justice of Pakistan has formally informed his Indian counterpart about the non-participation in the meeting. However, on the question whether Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would attend the SCO conference next month, the spokesperson said “the matter is under consideration and as and when this decision is taken, we will share it with everyone”.

India invited Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in the middle of March and May this year, respectively, for meetings under the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

An invite for the Chief Justice of Pakistan to attend the meeting was delivered to the Foreign Office by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. A similar invite for Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has also been delivered to the Foreign Office by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

FM Bilawal has been invited for the SCO foreign ministers’ conference expected in the middle of May this year. This year, the SCO which includes Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran, and Central Asian States will be hosted by India.

Speaking about the unending ordeal of the women in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) during the weekly press briefing, the FO spokesperson said that Pakistan will continue to advocate for the rights of Kashmiri women and invite the international community’s attention towards the grave situation of Kashmiri women in IIOJK.

“At least 682 women civilians have been victims of extrajudicial killings by the Indian forces since January 2001. Instead of providing them protection, Indian security forces molested or raped 11,256 women during the same period. Women constitute majority of the Kashmiri people suffering from psychiatric problems that are widespread in the climate of oppression and fear. Over two dozen women leaders and activists, including Asia Andrabi, remain incarcerated in different jails of IIOJK and New Delhi.”

“Women across the globe should take cognizance of their Kashmiri sisters’ plight and urge India to protect women’s rights in IIOJK. For its part, Pakistan will continue to invite the international community’s attention towards the grave situation of Kashmiri women in IIOJK,” she added.

To a question that a US intelligence report submitted to the US Congressional hearing apprehends increased tension between India and Pakistan and India and China with the possibility of a conflict between them as under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is more likely than the past to respond with military force to Pakistan provocations, the spokesperson said: “Pakistan has consistently advocated peace and dialogue in South Asia.

Our foreign policy is based on building partnerships for peace, friendship and prosperity in the region and beyond. We desire friendly ties with all our neighbors. We have also advocated constructive engagement and result oriented dialogue with India on all outstanding issues including the core dispute of Jammu and Kashmir.

Unfortunately, India’s unabated hostility and retrogressive steps have vitiated the regional environment and impeded the prospects for peace and cooperation. Indian illegal actions of August 5, 2019 have further harmed the possibility of constructive engagement between Pakistan and India.

We call on the international community to urge India to introspect, change course and take necessary steps to create an enabling environment for peace in South Asia for the welfare of the people of this region.”

She went on to say “Pakistan is a victim of terrorism and has suffered for years because of terrorism that has emanated from our neighborhood, I would like to remind everyone of the dossier that Pakistan presented a few months ago where we documented India’s involvement in terrorist incidents inside Pakistan.

A serving naval officer of Indian Navy is currently in Pakistan’s custody for having committed terrorist activities inside Pakistan. So there is no denying the fact that Pakistan is a victim of terrorism and India has been responsible for propagating terrorism against Pakistan.”

The spokesperson also said United Nations Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General for Afghanistan, Markus Potzel, will visit Pakistan from 09-10 March 2023. He will call on the Foreign Secretary and exchange views on the situation in Afghanistan, with a special focus on the humanitarian situation and international assistance for the Afghan people. Pakistan considered UNAMA as an important partner in our international engagement efforts on Afghanistan.

Next week, two important dialogues will be held between Pakistan and the United States. These include the Energy Security Dialogue and the Climate and Environment Working Group to be held in Islamabad, she added.

She said Energy Security Dialogue is scheduled for 15 March 2023. The US Department of State’s Bureau of Energy Resources Assistant Secretary Geoffery Pyatt will lead the US delegation. Secretary Power and Secretary Petroleum will lead from the Pakistan side. Discussions will be held on energy priorities, advancing the renewable energy transition, and economic and commercial opportunities in the energy sector.

“Climate and Environment Working Group meeting is scheduled for 16 March 2023. The US Department of State’s Oceans and International Environment and Scientific Affairs (OEC) Assistant Secretary Monica Madina will lead the US delegation.

The two sides will discuss Pakistan’s climate priorities and energy transition, water management, climate smart agriculture, biodiversity and protected national areas, air quality, and solid waste management. This will be the second round for the Energy Security Dialogue and the Climate and Environment Working Group. The first rounds were held virtually in September 2021.”

She said in the coming days bilateral dialogues will be held with countries in East Asia including Australia, China, Japan, and Malaysia. — DNA