ISLAMABAD - Pakistan is set to host an anti-terrorism meeting of a China-dominated regional security grouping Wednesday, where officials from India also are expected to be in attendance.
The two-day conference of legal experts is taking place under the framework of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which comprises China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, India, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan. Critics increasingly see the 8-nation SCO as a counterweight to NATO.
"The legal experts will discuss terrorist threats facing the region and ways and means to enhance counterterrorism cooperation between SCO member states," the Pakistani foreign ministry announced Tuesday.
The meeting, namely SCO-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure Legal Experts (RATS), is the first Pakistan is hosting since it became full member of the organization together with India nearly a year ago.
Reports from New Delhi say Indian delegates are planning to attend the Islamabad event, but officials there have yet to confirm it.
The Pakistani foreign ministry said Tuesday it is pleased to welcome delegations from SCO member states to Islamabad, but there was no mention whether Indian officials will attend.
The meeting comes just weeks after India's Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman confirmed her country would take part in SCO's anti-terrorism military drill to be hosted by Russia in September, where Pakistani troops also will be present.
"We are ready to share our experiences in tackling the menace of terrorism through the SCO-RATS," said the Pakistan statement. It reiterated Islamabad's resolve to support SCO's efforts for regional cooperation in fighting terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime.
Analysts say India's expected participation in Wednesday's meeting will be a significant step toward easing military and political tensions with Pakistan.
Indian and Pakistani militaries have been locked in routine skirmishes along their disputed Kashmir frontier, raising regional tensions. Both sides last week, as has become routine, accused each other of violating a mutual cease-fire in the Himalayan region, prompting skirmishes that officials said killed more than a dozen people, mostly civilians, on both sides.
New Delhi has refused to engage in talks with Islamabad until the neighboring country brings to justice militants blamed for terrorist attacks on Indian soil.
Pakistan denies any links to cross-border terrorism and says both the countries need to come to the table to defuse tensions and discuss all disputes, including the Kashmir dispute.