Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's four-nation tour, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Kazakhstan is set to bring leaders of arch enemies India and Pakistan on one dais. Scheduled for June 8 and 9 in Astana, the summit-level meeting will see PM Modi, Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping on the same platform.
India's participation in the meeting is also crucial because this year India becomes the full member of the multilateral organisation.
There are only a handful of countries in the SCO and a face-to-face meeting is unavoidable. However, sources in know of the matter told a news website that even as no formal meeting has been planned between Pak PM Sharif and PM Modi, but a handshake or a pull aside is possible between the two leaders.
The possible encounter will be closely watched to see if Modi and Sharif are able to defuse tension between the two nations.
last time PM Modi and Pak PM Sharif met was on December 25, 2015 when Modi made a surprise stopover in Lahore en route Delhi to Kabul. Only a week later on January 2, 2016 an attack on an IAF base in Pathankot by Pakistan ruined the peace process between the two nations.
Since then a series of Line of Control misadventure, including Uri attack, surgical strike by Indian Army and followed by Kulbhushan Jadhav debacle has only widened the rift between India and Pakistan.
Meeting with Xi Jinping
The sources quoted by the website also hinted at the possibility of a formal meeting between Xi and Modi. The meeting, if it happens, would be crucial in the backdrop of next Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) Plenary in Switzerland from June 19 and the recently held One Belt, One Road (OBOR) summit in Beijing.
India had backed out of the summit organised by Beijing in protest of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which violates Indian sovereignty as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.