Prime Minister Imran Khan has praised New Delhi’s ‘independent foreign policy’ over the Russia-Ukraine conflict
Prime Minister Imran Khan has again blasted foreign powers that tried to pressure Pakistan to sever ties with Russia over its military operation in Ukraine, vowing to continue making sovereign policy decisions that are in the best interests of his nation and people.
“For these three-and-a-half years we have only tried to help Pakistan prosper,” Khan said about his ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, addressing a public gathering in the town of Dargai on Sunday.
The prime minister explained why he refused to join the international chorus condemning Russia for its attack on Ukraine, saying that Pakistan would have gained nothing by complying with the demand. The diplomats representing nearly two dozen missions, including EU countries along with Japan, Switzerland, Canada, the UK and Australia, “broke protocol by making the request” in a March 1 letter, he added.
Imran Khan faces a no-confidence vote this week, after he lost his parliamentary majority following multiple defections from his party. He scolded the opposition leader in the National Assembly directly, according to the Express Tribune, saying Shehbaz Sharif “polished boots when he saw a white man in a suit.”
“I took an oath that I will not bow before anyone but God,” Khan reiterated, bringing up the US-led global war on terror as an example of a policy decision forced by the West that eventually brought Pakistan nothing but suffering. “We became part of America’s war against terror in Afghanistan and lost 80,000 people and $100 billion.”
Pakistan has come under increased Western pressure to publicly denounce and distance itself from Moscow, after it abstained from a United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning Moscow’s military actions against Kiev, choosing instead to remain neutral alongside 34 other countries, including China, South Africa and India.
Despite being a vocal critic of the Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Khan gave credit to the neighboring country for making “independent” decisions in the interests of its citizens.
India is also facing international pressure and criticism for staying neutral and adopting a pragmatic approach to ensure the country’s own energy security. New Delhi continues to buy Russian oil, available at discounted prices, as some countries have been avoiding it in fear of retaliatory sanctions from the US.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, with a stated goal to “demilitarize and denazify” its government, ensuring that its NATO membership aspirations no longer pose a threat to either Russia or the newly recognized Donbass republics, which have suffered seven years of siege by Kiev forces.
The US and its allies have accused Russia of starting an “unprovoked” invasion to occupy Ukraine. Moscow has seen thousands of harsh new curbs and sanctions slapped on it as a result, with the US, the EU, and others seeking to “isolate” and “destroy” the Russian economy.