New Delhi: There are not likely to be many fireworks at the forthcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) heads of government meeting to be chaired by India, with both Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan expected not to attend.
It is learnt that Indian Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu is likely to chair the meeting on November 30.
The apex meeting of the eight-member SCO is the summit of heads of states which was held earlier this month in a virtual form. Besides, there are a number of other meetings at various other levels, with heads of government being a notable one. The SCO member states include China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan
India’s chairmanship of the meeting of the SCO heads of government in 2020 was decided at last year’s meeting. “It was proposed at the Tashkent meeting by member states to India to take the initiative to hold the 2020 meetings of the heads of the government and India has agreed,” SCO secretary general Vladimir Norov said in September 2019.
In January this year, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had officially stated that invitations will be given out for the meeting – “held annually at Prime minister level” – to leaders of all eight members states.
“On the first it is a public knowledge now that India will be hosting the SCO Council of Heads of Government Meeting later this year. The meeting is held annually at the Prime Minister level and it discusses the SCO’s program of Multilateral Economic and Trade Cooperation as per the established practice and procedure within SCO, all eight members of SCO as well as four observer states and other international dialogue partners will be invited to attend the meeting,” said then MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar in reply to a query on whether the Pakistani prime minister would be invited.
In 2019 and 2018, the prime ministers of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan had chaired the SCO heads of government meetings which were held in their respective countries.
The Indian prime minister will be travelling on to his parliamentary constituency, Varanasi, on November 30, according to media reports. After landing in Varanasi in the afternoon, he will be in his constituency for six hours during which he will address public meetings, launch infrastructure projects and attend ‘Deep deepavali’ celebrations, as per UNI.
While Russia is expected to be represented by Mikhail Mishustin, it is learn that Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will not be participating, but send a ministerial representation to the video conference.
During an online seminar on SCO and India in September, a senior MEA official had underlined “India’s willingness to play a meaningful role in this regional grouping”.
“India’s chairmanship of the SCO council of heads of government during 2020 culminating in the summit in India on November 30, affords us an opportunity to contribute in a substantive way on the trade and economic agenda of SCO – that will be the main mandate of the summit,” Vikas Swarup, MEA Secretary (West), said two months ago.