Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will lead the Pakistan delegation to the meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) being held in Goa, India on May 4-5, Foreign Office spokesperson announced on Thursday. In her weekly press briefing, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch told the media that the foreign minister was attending the SCO CFM meeting at the invitation of the current Chair of SCO CFM, Dr. S. Jaishankar, Minister for External Affairs of India. “Our participation in the meeting reflects Pakistan’s commitment to the SCO Charter and processes and the importance that Pakistan accords to the region in its foreign policy priorities,” she remarked. She said that FM Bilawal had also attended the last meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers held in July last year in Tashkent. She said Pakistan continued to participate in SCO meetings in keeping with its long-standing commitment to the Organisation. Federal Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman represented Pakistan at the 4th SCO Meeting of Heads of Ministries on Environmental Protection held in online format in New Delhi on April 18, 2023. On Wednesday, the spokesperson said, Director of the National Disaster Management Authority virtually attended the SCO Expert Meeting of Heads of Agencies for Prevention and Elimination of Emergency Situations while on Thursday Muhammad Idrees Mahsud, Member Disaster Risk Reduction, is virtually participating in the SCO Meeting of Heads of Agencies for Prevention and Elimination of Emergency Situations. She apprised the media of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar’s participation in the 4th Meeting of the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan held on April 13 in Samarkand where she highlighted the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and called for humanitarian assistance for the people of Afghanistan. The MoS also participated in the Meeting of the Quadrilateral Group on Afghanistan which includes China, Iran, Pakistan and Russia and underlined that the untapped potential for connectivity could harness unprecedented new opportunities for the region. In Samarkand, she also held bilateral meetings with the foreign ministers of China, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The spokesperson informed the media that Pakistan’s Head of Mission in Afghanistan, Ambassador Ubaid Nizamani has returned to Kabul and resumed his responsibilities, after close consultation with the Afghan Interim Government. She said in his telephone conversation with Acting Afghan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Amir Khan Muttaqi on April 15, FM Bilawal also reiterated the necessity and responsibility of the Afghan Interim Government towards the safety and security of Pakistan’s diplomatic missions and personnel in Afghanistan. She also mentioned the Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC) with Bulgaria and with Portugal were held on April 11 and 13 respectively. A broad range of regional and global issues of common interest including regional security, climate change and cooperation at the multilateral fora were also discussed. Regarding the “worrying” developments in Sudan, she said the Foreign Office was closely monitoring the safety and security of the Pakistani community there. “Our Embassy in Sudan remains in close and constant contact with our community and will continue to facilitate them. The well-being of Pakistanis remains a key priority of the Government of Pakistan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” she added. Referring to the situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), she said even during this holy month, the occupation authorities have continued to impose curbs and restrictions on the freedom of religion. She said last week, the occupation authorities stopped Kashmiris from offering Friday prayer at Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid. Similarly, there were heavy deployments of security forces around mosques on ‘Shab-e-Qadr’, which is observed on the holy night on the 27th of Ramzan. “We urge the Indian authorities to bring an end to the restrictions imposed on Kashmiris that prevent them from freely practicing their religion. Pakistan will continue to raise its voice against these grave and systematic human rights violations in IIOJK,” she said. The spokesperson also reiterated that Pakistan would continue to extend political, diplomatic and moral support to the Kashmiri brothers and sisters for the just and peaceful settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions.