The Ministry of External Affairs has confirmed no meeting will take place between PM Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan during the sidelines of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) Summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Modi is scheduled to attend the annual SCO summit in the Kyrgyz capital on June 13-14 where Khan is also expected to be present.
There has not been any meeting between the two leaders since Khan took over as prime minister of Pakistan in August last year. India has not been engaging with Pakistan following the attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January of 2016, maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together.
The government’s decision to invite leaders of the BIMSTEC countries for the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi as prime minister for a second term on May 30 also reflected India’s reluctance to engage with Pakistan even as the external affairs ministry said the invitations were “in line with government’s focus on its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy”. Besides India, BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) comprises Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan. Khan, however, had called up Modi to congratulate him on his party’s big victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. It was their first telephonic conversation after the Balakot airstrikes.