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ISLAMABAD: Russian Ambassador to Pakistan Danila Ganich on Wednesday termed former Prime Minister Imran Khan as a “legend” and an “honest and courageous leader”, saying the former premier had held “fruitful” discussions with President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Moscow last year.

The Russian ambassador, who was speaking at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) about Pakistan-Russia diplomatic relations, was sharing his “personal” opinion about the former premier who is currently in Attock district jail and facing trial with regard to leaking the diplomatic cipher by then Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Dr Asad Majid Khan.

Responding to a question about former Prime Minister Khan, he termed the former premier a “legend” and an “honest and courageous leader”, adding that during his visit to Moscow in February 2022, there were “fruitful” discussions with the Russian leadership. He said that Pakistanis as a whole are supportive of Russia, and even during the war in Afghanistan by the erstwhile Soviet Union, “there were pockets of support inside Pakistan.”

He particularly mentioned Russian largesse in supporting Pakistan’s stance against Islamophobia, and observed that all religions should be respected. He castigated the West for irrationally advocating freedom of speech, and that too when it entails polarizing the society.

“We support counter-terrorism measures along with Pakistan, as we understand that your country has paid a great price in the form of 80,000 casualties during the war on terrorism,” the Russian envoy said, adding that military drills between the two countries, known as “Friendship”, will continue, and an episode has been planned for next year.

He was of the view that Pakistan-Russia relations are gaining momentum, and there is much that can be done to uplift trade and commercial activities. He said that there are “excellent” contacts at all levels, and the understanding on the political, military and commerce side is growing. He wished for an independent mode of payment between the two countries in an attempt to bolster trade activities, which presently is around $700 million.

To another question, Ambassador Ganich pointed out that his country is willing to supply oil to Pakistan, adding that while it is under sanctions, the negotiations are kept confidential and the terms are agreed by independent commercial parties.

About the war with Ukraine, he said that Russia will end the war in Ukraine on its own terms, adding that Kyiv has no possibility to win it at any cost.

Ganich said that the possibility of using nukes in the ongoing war in Ukraine is remote, as the military strategists are saner people. However, he pointed out that Russia has a stated policy on the use of nuclear weapons, and in case of an existential threat, it will do it. He was quick to add, nonetheless, that Ukraine is no threat to its military might, and he does not see a possibility of trigger-happiness.

The Russian envoy was; however, confident that “it is a matter of time, and Russia will win the war.” “I hope some common sense prevails, and both the parties soon arrive at a rapprochement,” he added.

He also stated that the LGBT “madness” has divided the world into traditional and non-traditional societies. He opined that Russia is close to traditionalism and hence has a naturally affinity to Pakistan.

About the recognition of the Taliban government in Kabul, Ganich said it should be a collective international decision, and observed that Russia is dealing with the dispensation along with other regional states in a coordinated manner.

Responding to another question about “Grain Deal”, he said that Moscow is willing and committed to do its part, “but the onus of breaking the promises is on other parties.” “We are ready to resume the deal and will see that it is implemented. But no one can coerce us into it,” the Russian envoy added.

To another query, he said that more than 80 percent of Russians are supportive of President Vladimir Putin’s policies, and the claim can be verified independently too as foreign agents and think tanks in Russia confirm it.

He also observed that Russian society is in transition, and has come a long way since coming out of the communist camp, and is moving towards a free-market economy.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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Arsala Erum Ahmed Sep 14, 2023 01:02pm
Thank you for this article. Pakistanis living in Pakistan cannot say anything good about Imran Khan
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