NEW DELHI When Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain shook hands and exchanged pleasantries after a press conference by the leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in China on Sunday, it was described by international media as a significant development.
The conciliatory moment came at the end of the media briefing which was addressed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. China is the host and chair of the SCO. After engaging with China in Wuhan and Qingdao, India appeared to be rebalancing its ties with Pakistan in order to build bridges with Eurasia, within the framework of the eight-nation SCO.
Follpwing SCO meet, Indian official sources, according to The Hindu newspaper, declined to single out Pakistan as a source of international terrorism.
Pakistan is not the only country responsible for terrorism, an Indian official, who did not wish to be named, said. Asked if Indias position on Islamabad had shifted since the September summit in Xiamen, where Pakistan-based groups had been named in the joint BRICS statement, the official said the SCO format was very different from BRICS, of which India was a founding member.
A diplomatic source told The Hindu that India was exploring the possibility of connectivity to Central Asia through the Pakistan-Afghan corridor, under the SCO framework. The SCO has been working on connectivity among its member countries. Now that India and Pakistan are both members, it provides New Delhi with a fresh opportunity to reach out to Central Asia across the Pakistani corridor, the source said. An Indian official had earlier told The Hindu that as its full participation neared, the Indian side seriously began to explore opportunities presented by New Delhis participation in the SCO. The result is an evolving policy towards Eurasia, with a Central Asia core.
Modi and Mamnoon were among the leaders who attended the media briefing after the end of the 18th SCO summit where India and Pakistan participated as full-fledged members. The relations between the neighbours are strained due to ongoing pro-independence struggle in Jammu and Kashmir.
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