ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Imran Khan has refused to condemn the Russian war on Ukraine, saying Islamabad’s future is tied with Moscow in terms of gas, oil, and wheat import. In an interview with German DW, Imran Khan reiterated that a military solution is no solution to any problem rather it creates many other problems.
To a question about whether he would condemn the Russian aggression against Ukraine, the former premier explained that he is, basically, an anti-war person. I do not believe that military solutions exist in this world because when you solve one problem with military operations, it actually end up creating a lot of other problems as was the case with Ukraine war, the war in Iraq, and the Afghanistan war which lasted 20 years. They created so many other problems. “If I was consulted on Ukraine war, I would certainly have not advised to go for this war,” he added.
Asked he was very explicit in opposing and condemning the Iraq and Afghan wars and why is he not condemning the Ukraine war in the same tone, Imran Khan explained that Pakistan’s future has tied with Russia in terms of importing gas, oil and specifically wheat to be imported from Russia for our 220 million population. “So, when you start condemning people, you take sides. Basically, taking moral stands on international issues is very good, but when your country suffers as a result of it, you have to have the luxuries to be stronger and richer enough to start taking sides.” “My point of view is very simple. I was then the prime minister and 220 million people of Pakistan elected me. Their main interest was that I look after the interest of the people. Therefore, we wanted to have the luxury of remaining neutral in this war,” he added.
To another question that he had been criticizing the US publically and avoiding the same when it comes to Russia, Khan explained there is a difference when he used to condemn the Iraq war and the Afghanistan war. He said that the Afghanistan war directly affected Pakistan, which forced millions of refugees to Pakistan. “But then I was not the prime minister of Pakistan and so I as civilian someone who does not believe in wars, I could speak my mind, (but) when you become a prime minister your responsibility then becomes the people of your country…So, as a prime minister that becomes my main responsibility,” he added.
When asked whether it was okay to go ahead with the visit of Russia the day it invaded Ukraine, Imran Khan defended his trip to Moscow, saying that when he landed in Moscow his meeting with President Putin was scheduled the next morning – the day when the invasion took place.
“When I arrived in Moscow, and the meeting was the next morning. So, when we woke up in the morning that’s when the invasion took place. So, believe me, I was not consulted on that. Hardly, I did not know that this would happen. Had I known I certainly would not have taken that trip,” he added.
He further explained that Russia’s visit was planned a long time before and Pakistan wanted to improve its relations with Russia after the cold war when Pakistan was part of the Western bloc and India was playing as neutral.
“So, we were always considered as part of the Western bloc and we never had a good relationship with Russia,” he said, adding that this was the first visit after many years by a Pakistani prime minister on which all the stakeholders were on board.
He maintained that the Foreign Office was of the opinion if we cancel the trip we would put this relation in cold storage.
When Khan pointed out the West’s double standards on the issue of Kashmir and the worst human rights violations, the anchor tried to stop him from not talking on the issue of Kashmir, but he did made his point and asked the West to allow Pakistan to remain neutral (on their issues) when it remains neutral on the issue of Kashmir.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022