News Desk |
Prime Minister Imran Khan and PM Narendra Modi are not scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit but the political analysts have conjectured an accidental meeting between the leaders on account of exchanging warm words following Modi’s landslide re-election last month.
The SCO – at times touted as Asian NATO – is holding its 19th summit, beginning Thursday in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek.
Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar told reporters that no “bilateral meeting” between the two was being planned. Political analysts in Islamabad, however, believe that things were not as bad as being projected between Islamabad and Delhi and Khan-Modi accidental meeting was still on cards.
Indian government defended their actions as response to terror strike at Pulwama (Feb, 12) in the Indian controlled Kashmir which India blamed on groups operating from Pakistan.
They said that the Indian officials in Pakistan were constantly in contact with PM Khan since taking office, adding that Khan had said in April that Modi’s win at the polls could help settle the Kashmir showdown. They added that Khan has repeatedly said that his government was open to dialogue.
Following the elections, the political commentators said that PM Khan had telephoned his Indian counterpart and congratulated him on his party’s victory in the Lok Sabha polls, adding that Khan had expressed his desire for both the countries to work together for the betterment of their people.
Khan had congratulated him in a tweet saying: “I congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia.”
I congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) May 23, 2019
Imran Khan & Narendra Modi: Face to Face
The SCO will also provide an opportunity for two estranged South Asian nations to face each other. Indian and Pakistani leaders will be forced to interact for the very first time. Khan and Modi have never met since Khan came to power in the July elections of 2018 – though he had once met Modi during his visit to India as Pakistan’s main opposition leader a few years ago.
Read more: Will Imran Khan meet Putin at SCO Summit?
Khan tried engaging Indian PM after coming to power and exchanged messages and letters and even had a telephonic conversation with Modi after August 2018. However, relations are especially cold since 27th February 2018 when Indian air-force struck inside the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Indian government defended their actions as response to terror strike at Pulwama (Feb, 12) in the Indian controlled Kashmir which India blamed on groups operating from Pakistan.
Indo-Pakistan Aerial Dogfight in Feb 2019
Pakistan had strongly denied the accusation, asked India for proofs and reacted robustly to Indian air strike by striking back inside Indian controlled Kashmir. In subsequent aerial dogfight Pakistan Air-Force (PAF) downed two Indian fighter planes (A Mig-21 and SU-27) and captured an Indian pilot of Mig-21. However, India claims that only one plane was shot down and made counter claims that its pilots shot down a US made F-16. United States government – the supplier of F-16 planes and parts – has however verified that Pakistani stock of F-16s is complete.
Modi and his party leaders all declared themselves, “Chowkidars” (Guards) of an India threatened by Pakistan, on their twitter handles.
Both India and Pakistan were careful in not hitting civilian populations or infrastructure during their brief skirmish. Though the Indian government made leaks to its media claiming killing 350 militants in Ballot, KP, but under the scrutiny of Indian media and opposition, it later retracted its earlier claims and admitted that no casualties took place during its airstrike.
Imran Khan Won International and Indian Praise for Releasing Indian Pilot, Wing. Comd. Abhinandan
Imran Khan earned international praise and plaudits from civil society and political parties for unconditionally returning the Indian pilot (Wing Comd. Abhinandan). The whole episode has been hugely embarrassing for Indian PM, who was seen as over-reacting and had also failed to teach Pakistan a lesson.
However, Indo-Pakistani tensions are believed to have helped Modi win his May 2019 elections by a huge margin. Modi’s critics suspect that Pulwama attack in Kashmir was an internal job to ratchet up tensions focusing elections into a national security agenda and allowing Modi to become a wartime PM of an India under threat. Modi and his party leaders all declared themselves, “Chowkidars” (Guards) of an India threatened by Pakistan, on their twitter handles.
Though, Kumar has said that no formal meeting has been planned between Modi and Khan, Indo-Pakistani media continue to speculate that both leaders might bump into each other at SCO summit.