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Tuesday July 23, 2024

PM’s visit to Russia ill-timed

The bottom line of this visit will be a blow to Pakistan’s reputation

By Jan Achakzai
February 14, 2022
Prime Minister Imran Khan is going to visit Russia at a time which is probably not a suitable moment.-File photo
Prime Minister Imran Khan is going to visit Russia at a time which is probably not a suitable moment.-File photo

The late Gen Zia-ul-Haq visited Iran just a few days before the Shah of Iran was ousted by the Ayatullah Khamenei-led revolution to show solidarity with the Shah.

The above line only drives home one message that untimely diplomatic adventures are not new in Pakistan's history.

Had Liaqat Ali Khan simultaneously visited Russia when he visited the US, Pakistan’s history would have been different today and probably even better.

Coming to the point that Prime Minister Imran Khan is about to undertake a very important visit to Moscow.

It comes at a time when the US and Russia are locked in a bitter standoff since the Cold War over Ukraine. This could spiral into a conflict any time if diplomacy completely fails. Europe (US camp) and Eastern Europe (Russian camp) are trying to avoid being caught in the crossfire.

Prime Minister Imran Khan is going to visit Russia at a time which is probably not a suitable moment.

Here is another paradox Pakistan is facing today. Led by PTI, a minority party government sitting at the helm with the support of allies gathered by powerful quarters took this decision for the nation.

The most prominent aspect of this visit is that Russia did not invite, rather an invitation was sought. And more so in an environment where Putin has already called PM Modi to express gratitude for India’s support to Russia in the UN Security Council — a temporary position India has because the diplomatic consensus in Islamabad had voted for Delhi to be so.

Interestingly, Russia didn't seek our support, nor did the US stop us from going to Moscow. Is it Pakistan's irrelevance or a clear reading of the US that we will come back from Russia empty-handed and will beg for financial concessions from Washington in forums like IMF, FATF, etc, from a position of further weakness?

And why Russia is not going to give us anything? It is because India’s first prime minister did not decline the Russian invitation to visit and also due to presence of many Indian students in Russia as well as the US. And Russia losing India for the sake of Pakistan’s support is not an option. Pakistan's support comes at the cost of frequent requests for aid and loans.

Additionally, Moscow will not appease Pakistan at this juncture as doing so will offend India. Russia needs Delhi's support more than anything else since the Biden Administration has boxed President Putin in a difficult situation in the Ukraine crisis.

And we are offering needed support along with a request of one billion dollars. We are with Russia on the Ukraine crisis. But the question is what the government brings to the Russian table apart from moral support — help in the form of troops, technology and finances? The answer is a big No.

So the experienced wrestlers do not get into a fight where disgrace is imminent.

A suggestion to the PM and both its de facto and de jure diplomatic team is to read what the government’s NSA wrote in a document namely National Security Policy.

What one gets out of it is that we will focus on our economy and won’t do any adventures anymore.

Mr. PM pls follow your NSP and avoid another Liaquat Ali Khan moment in Pakistan's foreign policy. While, the cost will be heavier for the country's interest, it will be crushing for your image.

The bottom line of this visit will be a blow to Pakistan’s reputation. We have fewer options and we will look “optionless” after this visit.


The writer Jan Achakzai is a geopolitical analyst, a politician from Balochistan and an ex-adviser to the Balochistan Government on media and strategic communication.

He is also Chairman of the Institute of New Horizons (INH) & Balochistan. He tweets @Jan_Achakzai