Home Latest News Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari Defends Former P.M. Khan’s Trip to Russia

Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari Defends Former P.M. Khan’s Trip to Russia

Foreign minister defends incumbent government, says P.M. Sharif should be given chance to solve country’s issues

by Newsweek Pakistan

Photo courtesy PPP Media Cell

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday defended former prime minister Imran Khan’s visit to Russia, saying it was conducted as part of the ousted government’s foreign policy and there is no way anyone could have known the invasion was so imminent.

Addressing a press conference in New York, he said that he would “absolutely” defense Khan’s visit to Moscow. “[The] Pakistani P.M. conducted that trip as part of his foreign policy,” he said, adding that no one is psychic or could have predicted that the Russian invasion of Ukraine would happen while Khan was in Russia.

“I believe it is very unfair to punish Pakistan for such an innocent action,” he said. “Of course, Pakistan is absolutely clear as far as it comes to the principles of the U.N. of non-use of force and we stand by these principles,” he said, stressing that Pakistan was not a part of any conflict and had no desire to be. “We will continue to emphasize the importance of peace, dialogue and diplomacy to resolve this conflict as soon as possible,” he said, adding that Islamabad would not take any sides in this situation as it has witnessed a decade of conflict in Afghanistan and is tired of war.

“Therefore, we think that through using tools of dialogue and diplomacy we can solve many problems,” he said.

Former prime minister Imran Khan has repeatedly accused the U.S. government of funding a “foreign conspiracy” to oust his regime, claiming that this was provoked by his visit to Russia ahead of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. His campaign since his ouster has focused on demands for an “independent” foreign policy that is not subservient to the desires of foreign powers.

To another question on whether the incumbent government would defend its predecessor’s policies in public forums, the foreign minister said that he would not defend Khan’s politics, manifesto, or government. However, he said, there were certain exceptions. “In his capacity as prime minister, the way he conducted himself in foreign policy, particularly in context of this Russian trip, I will go as far as to defend the fact that he did not know the Ukraine conflict will start on the very day that he was there,” he said.

“Imran Khan is not doing democratic, parliamentary and constitutional politics … he is heading towards politics of extremism,” said Bhutto-Zardari, adding that as a party in opposition, the PTI had a right to protest, but Khan had resorted to levelling false allegations against political rivals and institutions. If the incumbent government exposed how Khan’s government was formed, he warned, the PTI chairman would not be able to hide from the public.

“Therefore, Imran Khan should play the role of a responsible opposition member. Otherwise, he will have to answer,” he said, adding that those involved in the “crime” of bringing Khan to power would also have to answer for their actions.

To another question, the foreign minister said that the PTI-led government had been given nearly four years to enact its policies on Pakistan and now Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif should likewise be given a chance to solve the country’s issues. “We need to find out the solution to issues while working together with every stakeholder and party,” he said.

Earlier, during his address to a U.N. food security summit, he said the new Pakistan government’s immediate priority was to address the country’s serious economic challenges. Claiming that Pakistan had the potential to not only meet its own food security needs, but also those of its surrounding region and the wider world, he noted that Islamabad had never shirked its responsibility for humanitarian efforts despite limited resources.

He also lauded the U.N.’s initiative to unite and mobilize the international community to respond to the urgent food security and nutrition challenges being faced by the world, regretting that these had been further aggravated by recent geopolitical developments.

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