New Delhi: Reacting to Pakistan's Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's statement on the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) virtual summit conducted under India's presidency, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Friday said that it would be presumptuous of anyone to think that one factor or one person would have had a role in the SCO.

"Look, I think on the SCO summit, I think we have spoken, I think more than two or three occasions about the different factors that led to virtual SCO organizing the SCO summit in a virtual mode. It would be certainly presumptuous of anyone to think that one factor or one person would have had a role to play in that," Bagchi said in a briefing.

It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan's Foreign Minister said in his exit press conference before they dissolved the national assembly on August 9, saying his visit to India during SCO compelled the country to go virtual in the SCO leaders summit adding that if the Pakistan Prime Minister was there, then it would have been a concern for India.

India held the SCO Leaders Summit this year on July 4, 2023, in a virtual format where Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called on the international community to "meaningfully engage" with Afghanistan to take the next steps. He said that the international community finds itself at a standstill with Afghanistan.

Earlier, the MEA Spokesperson informed, “As you are aware, many international summits in recent years have taken place in the virtual format. Taking all factors into account – and there’s no single factor, it’s a totality of various factors – we decided the forthcoming summit of the SCO is best done in the same manner, that is virtual."

“Preparations for the successful organising and holding of this summit are underway and we are confident that it will produce notable outcomes and will be a success.”

Bagchi said he wasn’t aware of any announcements regarding the meeting being held in a physical format. “We have now communicated to SCO partners about this event being held in virtual format on July 4 and our expectation is that everybody would be able to join,” he added.

The theme of the Summit was 'Towards a SECURE SCO'. The SECURE acronym was coined by the Prime Minister at the 2018 SCO Summit and stands for Security; Economy and Trade; Connectivity; Unity; Respect for Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity; and Environment. These themes have been highlighted during our Chairmanship of SCO.