Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan recent visit to Russia came in a crucial time when Russia invaded Ukraine. But the visit of PM Imran Khan can not be linked with Russian invasion because it was pre-scheduled. The main aspects of the visit was to discuss bilateral issues, including energy cooperation. Most of the countries were watching this visit especially India because PM Imran Khan was the first Pak PM who landed in Russia after 23 years. Although Indian Media has tried hard to propagate this visit especially PM Khan’s statement “what a time I have come, so much excitement,”.
Some experts also pointed out the timing of PM Khan’s visit to Russia was a “diplomatic disaster”. But During the cold war Pakistan was in US block and after the USSR collapse relations between Pakistan and Russia were not as much good. Now Pakistan is trying to rebuild its relation with Russia on high level. The passing of new Pakistan’s National security Policy is clearly focusing on strengthening ties with Russia.
After that UNSC call a special session of United Nation General Assembly to pass a condemnation resolution against Russia. This was a rare session which was called after 20 years. In this UNGA session 141 countries voted against Russia and 35 countries abstain from voting including India, china, Pakistan and UAE and 5 voted against Russia.
According to reports US and Some European diplomats in Pakistan demanded, Pakistan to condemn Russian invasion to Ukraine, during emergency UNGA session, while Pakistan remained abstain from voting. The letter was jointly signed by the ambassadors of 21 European countries to Pakistan. But Pakistan decided not to take either sides on the issue. Pakistan is in support of peaceful and negotiated settlement. “PM Imran Khan regretted the latest situation between Russia and Ukraine and said that Pakistan had hoped diplomacy could avert a military conflict”.
India abstained three times from voting against Russia, but the question is why US and other European countries are pressurizing Pakistan to do so. Pak PM Imran Khan spoke about the European Union envoy’s letter to Pakistan during a public rally in Multan. He said “EU ambassadors wrote a letter to Pakistan, asking us to issue an anti-Russia statement. I ask EU ambassadors “did you write that letter to India as well?”. He also said “Pakistan will not take part in any war”.
It’s a tactics to pressurize Pakistan as it had pressurized soon after the 9/11 attack. They once again creating a situation like the past. Pressurizing always one country (Pakistan) is not democratic, rational behavior. The question raises that does Pakistan is not a sovereign state like India? who is trade partner of US and Europe as well as Russia at the same time. India always said firstly they will look their own interests and what will be batter for their county’s interest they chose it. Why such demand made only to Pakistan and it being pressurized by India openly. It shows the hypocrisy towards Pakistan, because they knew if Pakistan not gave favor they will retaliate against Pakistan, but they can’t retaliate against India. This selective behavior may compel Pakistan to look permanently towards Russia and China for its future.
The world should know that Pakistan have its own interest as other countries and India have. The sovereignty of any state based on its own national interests not based on to obey or serve other’s interests. In 2019 when India attacked on Balakot (Pakistan), Pakistan needed same condemnation from rest of the world against Indian aggression but nobody was ready to condemn Indian aggression, because of their relations with India. Same as when India abrogated the special status of Indian Illegal Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) Pakistan was looking a support from the world to condemn Indian illegal action but nobody condemned it. Now they do not need to pressurize Pakistan because this time Pakistan do not want to become a Part of any block as became a part of US block during cold war. Pakistan also do not want to involve others conflict or war because Pakistan has already paid a heavy price of 80,000 lives loss and 150 million dollar economy loss by indulging third countries war. Its tough time for Pakistan to adopt a policy of neutrality because by doing so Pakistan will face somehow harsh reaction from US and European countries in International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) sessions where Pakistan is in grey list. In spite of all tactics and pressure, Pakistan have to stand united on its policy of neutrality that they will not become a part of any block. Pakistan aim to strengthening its relations with Russia does not mean Pakistan is weakening its relations with US and Europe, Pakistan also want batter and important relations with them without any harm. Its need to understand that Pakistan is not a vessel or protectorate state of any country. Pakistan is a sovereign, independent and responsible state which has geo strategic importance in the region. The significance of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and changing dynamic of Afghanistan situation pave the way for Pakistan to build its relations with all regional and external powers without joining any block.
Improving relations with Russia now become a challenge for Pakistan as US and west is pressurizing Pakistan. The world must realize that improving relations with other countries does not mean joining Russian or any others camp. Pakistan is maintaining its relationship with US, west as well as Russia. As Pakistan foreign policy is based on its founding father’s principals “to maintain friendly and cordial relations with all nations. “We do not cherish and aggressive design against any county and nation”.
*The writer is Islamabad based Researcher and Freelancer