Pak PM Nawaz Sharif to attend Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Astana

Islamabad: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Astana, Kazakhstan tomorrow where Pakistan will be granted full member status along with India. The 17th Meeting of the SCO Heads of State Council (HoSC) would take place on June 8-9 in Astana, Kazakhstan. “Pakistan will become a full member of the SCO at Astana,” the Foreign Office said today in a statement.

Pakistan has been an Observer with SCO since 2005 and it applied for full membership of the organisation in 2010. The decision, in principle, to give membership to Pakistan was taken by the SCO Heads of State meeting held in Ufa, Russia in 2015.

“Pakistan fully subscribes to the Charter of SCO and the ‘Shanghai Spirit’. As an Observer, we have been actively participating in the activities of the Organisation,” it said. It said Pakistan shares with the SCO and its member states, deep-rooted historical and cultural links, as well as strong economic and strategic complementarities.

“Our interests converge across a wide range of areas. SCO will help us underscore our interest in regional peace, stability and development and our support for regional cooperation against terrorism and extremism,” it said.

On the sidelines of the SCO Summit, Sharif will hold a number of bilateral meetings with other participating leaders. The details of the meeting have not been officially shared but sources said that meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin is on the cards.

According to official sources, so far there is no plan for an official meeting between Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. But an interaction or handshake cannot be ruled out as both leaders would be present under the same roof, they said.

The statement said besides the SCO Summit, Kazakhstan is also hosting the International Expo 2017, in which more than 100 countries including Pakistan are participating.

Sharif along with other participating SCO Head of States will also attend the inaugural ceremony of the Expo. The HoSC is the highest decision-making body of SCO which meets annually. The last Summit was held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in June 2016.