Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Russia on Wednesday afternoon for a three-day visit where he will be attending the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summits at the central Russian city of Ufa. But what has assumed significance in this leg of his eight day tour is his likely meeting with the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and even Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Off late, some leaders in both India and Pakistan have been embroiled in sharp exchange of remarks, especially after the Indian army’s counter-insurgency operation in north-eastern border along Myanmar.
However, both PM Modi and Pakistan PM Sharif recently made goodwill gestures looking forward at improving the bilateral ties. The government of India released 88 Pakistan fishermen, while the Pakistan side reciprocated by releasing 111 Indian fishermen.
The two leaders are expected to meet on the sidelines of SCO summit.
The participation of Prime Minister Modi in SCO will also begin the process of India’s membership into the 6-nation group of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. India, currently, enjoys the role of an observer in the SCO. According to Russian officials, the process of India’s membership will be completed by next year, along with that of Pakistan, to make it an eight-member body.
“India and Pakistan are not joining the SCO tomorrow. The process of engaging them is beginning,” Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said.
Also, Narendra Modi will become the first Indian Prime Minister to participate at the SCO summit.
In another high profile possibility, PM Modi is also expected to meet Chinese President Xi at the sidelines of the SCO summit. The two leaders will meet amid India’s unhappiness over Beijing constructing an economic corridor with Pakistan passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
India has raised objections to the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project passing through PoK. Part of the 3,000-km economic corridor linking Pakistan’s Gwadar port with Kashgar in China’s north-western autonomous region of Xinjiang will pass through the Gilgit-Baltistan region.
India has also expressed concerns over China’s recent move to block action against Pakistan in the UN over release of Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi.
In Russia, the Prime Minister will also be attending the crucial BRICS summit to hold discussions over enhancing cooperation in the economic area between the member nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Besides PM Modi and Chinese President Xi, the BRICS Summit is being attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and South African President Jacob Zuma.
Attaching significance with the BRICS summit, the Prime Minister had said before departing from Delhi, “It (BRICS) is a great forum that can contribute effectively to mitigate global challenges. BRICS also has a very crucial role to play in furthering world peace and security and ensuring we leave behind a better planet for our future generations.”
(With inputs from the PTI)