Khan 'blindsided' by Putin: Pakistan left in cold after botched bid to 'outflank' India

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With the war in Ukraine now entering its fourth week, the economic and humanitarian impact has left millions of people displaced and towns and cities destroyed. Punitive economic sanctions have been placed on Russian assets as well as mounting international condemnation against Putin and the Kremlin.

However, for Pakistan and India, the lack of condemnation has raised concerns as to the silence coming from Islamabad and Delhi.

According to one senior academic, a meeting between Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Putin in Moscow just hours before the invasion of Ukraine left Mr Khan in the dark.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Scott Lucas, a Professor of International Politics from the University of Birmingham, and Chief Editor of EA Worldview said: “Before the Russian invasion, both Pakistan and India had ties to Moscow.

“Russia was already the largest source of military equipment for India, as well as Russian energy supplies.

“But what caught Pakistan out was as it tried to outflank India, building up a relationship with Russia, Imran got blindsided.

“He went to Moscow hours before the invasion is launched.

“And he, not Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks like the fall guy when Putin takes the gamble of invading Ukraine.”

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Professor Lucas went on to say: “This puts Pakistan in a really tough position.

“Clearly no country will come out and support the invasion and say it is justified; it is too much following the aggression shown by Putin.

“On the other hand, Pakistan and India do not want to condemn the invasion or call it an invasion because they fear they will be viewed as siding with the West.

“So if Pakistan jumps in too quickly and condemns the invasion of Ukraine, India can play nice with Moscow and try to benefit from the relationship in the short term.”

Professor Lucas also mentioned Mr Khan had also closed several doors in the West.

He said: “For months prior to the invasion, he had been increasingly hostile in his rhetoric about the West, and about the US, about NATO.

“A lot of this has been for domestic purposes, and why he had been positioning himself in this way.”

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Adding to the argument, and also speaking to Express.co.uk, Umar Karim, a research fellow at the University of Birmingham said: “The visit of Imran Khan is the first such visit to Moscow by a Pakistani leader since Pervez Musharraf.

“I do not think Imran Khan had an idea the invasion was going to go through; the Pakistani Government also did not think Putin would invade Ukraine.

“Pakistan is now trying to diversify its foreign relations and strategic engagement with as many countries as it can.

“It wanted to also shed its label of being an American ally, but not at the cost of other relationships.

“The goal with Russia is to try and bring Russian gas to Pakistan, hence why Russia is crucial.

“Imran Khan and the military are on the same footing suggesting the need for a strong and independent relationship with Russia, one not dependent on the relationship with the West.

“However, they differ when it comes to bashing the US and the West, with the military suggesting multiple relationships are better for the country.”

Has Imran Khan left himself isolated through his actions? Should he now come out and condemn Russia? Why has India remained so silent? Let us know your thoughts on these questions, or add your own views by CLICKING HERE and joining the debate in our comments section below – Every Voice Matters!

Mr Karim also said: “Pakistan could have given more support to the resolutions condemning the invasion of Ukraine.

“But Pakistan abstained on every resolution.

“The Government is using populism for its own gain, and right now, the general trend is Russia is finally challenging the western bloc, and Pakistan is using this whole discourse to suggest to its followers we are also challenging the Western bloc, and hence why we are supporting Russia.”

Mr Karim ended by saying her did not think Pakistan would back down from its current status quo on Russia.

Summing up the stance, Professor Lucas said: “Imran Khan has been trying to manoeuvre between Russia and other countries, he is trying to create an independent position for Pakistan.

“But, because of the timing of his visit to Moscow, an independent Pakistan position may be a stranded Pakistan position, at least personally for Imran Khan, if not for the country going forward.”



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