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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office on Friday said that Pakistan is in consultation with the Russian Federation for the import of wheat, however, it refrained from either confirming or denying any negotiations to have been held during former prime minister Imran Khan’s government on import of oil from Russia.

Responding to media queries during his weekly briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said that Pakistan’s policy in terms of expanding economic and trade relations is clear.

“We have an open policy, driven by national interest - wherever we see there is a national benefit we pursue those options and avenues,” he said, adding that there is an ongoing food security crisis in the world, which was discussed at length in New York also hosted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on May 18, 2022.

He pointed out that there is a shortage of food grain in Pakistan and a decision has also been taken to import a certain quantity of wheat utilizing various options, international bidding and G2G options.

“In this regard, the government is in touch with friends and partners, and we are also in consultation with the Russian side on this subject,” he added.

On the question of oil import from Russia as has been claimed by the PTI chairman, Imran Khan, the spokesperson, however, refrained from making any comment, saying that it would be appropriate to put the question to the relevant minister.

Responding to a question about the Biden administration’s approach towards China, announced by the US Secretary of State on Thursday, the spokesperson reiterated Pakistan’s stated position, saying that Pakistan wants objective, balanced and broad-based relations with major powers.

“This includes the US and China and others, and we will continue to pursue that policy. So it is in that context, we engage closely with China…we are strategic partners, BRI [Belt and Road Initiative], CPEC [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor], and other initiatives are there,” he added.

Govt takes step to avert wheat shortage

He added that the recent contacts with the United States, the engagement between the two foreign ministers is also indicative of the same desire of both the countries to expand our relations on those lines – broad-based, mutually beneficial, of mutual interest and based on mutual respect.

“I believe we will continue this policy. We think that this is in the best interest of Pakistan. And in principle, we always encourage major powers to adopt policies that are cooperative rather than confrontational,” he added.

To a question about the life sentence by an Indian court to Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik, the spokesperson strongly condemned the move, saying that such illegal actions by the Indian government, the occupation authorities in IIOJK, cannot dampen or weaken the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiri people.

To the contrary and as we have seen the kind of reaction that was there in IIOJK, the kind of sentiment that was there across Pakistan, also demonstrated by the Joint Resolution of the Parliament, He said that from the kind of reaction, it is very clear that such steps by India that they have been taking especially since 5th August 2019, the resistance, the voice of the Kashmiris, it has only gained strength.

He added that Kashmiri struggle for self-determination which is a just struggle against an illegal occupation is going to continue and gain momentum, and it is not going to be affected at all by such steps.

“At the same time, we cannot let such illegal actions and atrocities go unnoticed and un-responded. So we have mounted an effort, which is across the board. We are reaching out diplomatically to major countries and other friends in the international community. We have already approached the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Secretary-General of the OIC,” he added.

He said that Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is going to write to the UN Secretary-General as well about the conviction of Yasin Malik, adding that the Foreign Minister had also discussed the matter with the UNSG during his recent visit to New York.

“We are going to utilize all forums, be it at the UN in New York, the General Assembly, the Security Council, as you would have noticed the most recent Security Council debate in which this issue was forcefully raised and the international community was sensitized,” he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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