External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will be representing India at the Commonwealth summit to be held later this week in Rwanda’s capital Kigali. Pakistan’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar will also be attending the summit. But Jaishankar is likely to give Pakistan’s minister the cold shoulder there, sources told The Daily Guardian Review. However, Jaishankar will hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in what will be a clear message to Pakistan.
Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih will be in attendance. Jaishankar will be in Rwanda’s capital from 23 June to 25 June for the summit which is Commonwealth leaders’ first summit since 2018. This is going to be the first summit in Africa since 2007.
Pakistan will be represented by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina R Khar. Sources said that earlier Pakistani foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto had planned to represent his country, but due to some personal issues he is skipping the meet. Top diplomatic sources say that a meeting between Jaishankar and Khar is unlikely. This is how, Jaishankar will snub the Pakistani minister there, sources add. “Bhutto is deliberately not attending the summit so as to avoid this kind of embarrassment,” diplomats say.
Sri Lankan foreign minister Prof. GL Peiris and Bangladeshi FM AK Momen will also be present. Jaishankar will be having bilateral meetings with both of them. Sources say that if Jaishankar meets his counterparts from Dhaka and Colombo, then it will be a message for Pakistan that is being snubbed by India for its failure to mend its ways on the issue of terrorism. What has complicated the matters further is Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue repeatedly and Islamabad’s bid to capitalize on the Prophet remarks row.
Maldives President›s presence is important given that the country rejoined the grouping in 2020. Leaders of Commonwealth countries meet every two years for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). Since 1971, a total of 24 summits have been held, with the most recent being in British Capital London in 2018. PM Modi had attended the meet that time. The 2015 Commonwealth summit in Malta saw India being represented by the then EAM Sushma Swaraj.
Brunei is represented by its Sultan, Eswatini by its king Mswati III even though 14 countries will be present at the Presidential level, 17 at the Prime ministerial level, and 10 at the foreign minister-level. Countries represented at the Prime Minister level include Mauritius by PM Pravind Kumar, the UK by PM Boris Johnson, and Canada by PM Justin Trudeau. Countries represented by the foreign minister level are Malaysia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Malawi. Australia is represented by Deputy PM Richard Marles.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) has started on Monday, the official opening takes place on Friday, 24th June and will be followed by main high-level meetings of Heads on Friday & Saturday (24-25 June). The CHOGM summit was due to take place in June of 2020 but was postponed twice due to the COVID pandemic.