At SCO joint photograph session, PM Narendra Modi and Pakistan PM Imran Khan
By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 14, Jun 2019, 13:35 pm IST | UPDATED: 14, Jun 2019, 13:35 pm IST
DELHI: At the two-day Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan PM Imran Khan on Friday maintained distance during the joint photograph session of HOC, HOGs of SCO member states.Earlier on Thursday during the informal dinner hosted by Kyrgyzstan President Sooronbay Jeenbekov for the leaders attending the summit, it is reported that Modi and Imran Khan did not even exchange pleasantries.Khan and Modi are in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek for the two-day Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit. Here, in an interview to Russian news agency Sputnik before heading to Bishkek, Khan said the SCO summit provided him an opportunity to speak to the Indian leadership to improve ties between the two neighbours. Khan said the SCO summit provided Pakistan a "fresh outlet" to develop its relationship with other countries, including India.
"At the moment, our bilateral relationship with India is, probably, at its lowest point," he said.
Khan said Pakistan was open for "any kind of mediation" and seeks peace with all its neighbours, especially with India, asserting that the three "small wars" have damaged both the countries that now grapple with the "greatest amount of poverty".
Ahead of the summit, India had ruled out any bilateral meeting with Pakistan. This is the first time the two leaders are sharing the stage after Modi's re-election following the stunning victory of the BJP in the general elections last month. This also comes a month after the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the powerful UN Security Council designated Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist after China, Pakistan's closest ally, lifted its technical hold on the proposal to blacklist him.
India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January of 2016 by a Pakistan-based terror group, maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together.
Early this year, tensions flared up between India and Pakistan after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district.
Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot in Pakistan on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured an IAF pilot, who was later handed over to India.