PM Imran says Pakistan will not play camp politics, calls foreign aid a ‘curse’

Premier reiterates Pakistan seeks trade ties with all countries, including neighbours

News Desk February 22, 2022
PM Imran in an interview with host Oksana Boyko of Russia Television on Feb 22, 2022. Photo: APP

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said Pakistan will not play “camp politics” as it wanted to have trade relations with all countries to lift its populace out of poverty.

In an interview with Russia’s state-owned media outlet, Russia Today, the prime minister talked about the illicit outflow of wealth from the developing world, climate change, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and ties between Islamabad and Moscow.

Speaking about the Cold War that “ravaged” the world from the 1950s to the 90s, Imran said Pakistan initially had joined a camp because it needed money after the influx of millions of refugees in the aftermath of partition.

"But the country should have left the US camp after a decade or so and pursued an independent policy," he said, calling reliance on foreign aid “a curse”.

“Such aid stops a country from evolving and developing and becoming self-reliant,” he said, adding that the reliance on hand-outs stops a country from becoming independent.

According to the premier, Pakistan wanted trade ties with all countries, including its neighbours.

Read Foreign office confirms PM Imran’s ‘landmark’ trip to Russia

Speaking about the past, he said it was not possible to trade with India because of its hostile attitude. Imran added that trade ties with Iran and Afghanistan could not be developed because of sanctions and a decades-long conflict, respectively.

"Similarly, Pakistan could not establish trade relations with the Central Asian States because of its proximity to the US and theirs to the Soviet Union," he added.

However, this time, Pakistan will not join any camp, the PM said, adding that trade is the priority of Islamabad for the sake of its population. “What we want now is to trade with everyone,” he said, adding that the main focus of every head of state should be to raise people out of poverty.

Russian gas pipeline project

About the gas pipeline project with Russia amid the threat of sanctions by the US, Imran said the pipeline project suffered because the companies involved in the project had been sanctioned by the US.

“Finding a Russian company that was not sanctioned by the US became a problem,” he added.

"Pakistan could also get gas from Iran but it cannot since there were the US sanctions on the country," Imran said, adding that the developing world doesn’t want another cold war because of the consequences for the developing countries.

Read More: Gas pipeline projects among PM’s Russia visit agenda

“I have to say the developing world really wishes there’s not another cold war…how do we go ahead,” he said, adding that half of the population of Pakistan is below the poverty line.

“The last thing we want is the world divided into blocks and sanctions,” he said.

If there is a commodity supercycle or if there’s a shock like Covid-19, the other half will also start going below the poverty line, he said alluding to the prospect of another cold war.

Ukraine-Russia crisis

PM Imran said that he is "hoping the Ukraine crisis resolves peacefully”.

“If we read reports in the western media there is an imminent war between Russia and Ukraine…on the cards. And clearly, western countries take a very oppositional, I would even say inimical view to Russia," claimed Imran.

"For a shrewd politician like yourself, don’t you think perhaps it is too precarious of a time to expand Pakistan’s geopolitical horizon,” the interview asked.

“It doesn’t concern us, we have bilateral relations with Russia and we really want to strengthen it,” Imran responded to the question.

He added the countries do not develop in isolation but it is the whole region that develops like the European Union.

“We hope that sanctions are lifted on Iran as we are short of gas here,” he said, adding that he hoped the Indian government will focus on lifting people out of poverty rather than proving to the world that Hindus are superior.

Read Also: Putin orders Russian troops to Ukrainian breakaway regions

In response to a question about being a neutral country amid conflict between global powers, Imran said he did not believe the military solution could be applied to resolve the conflict. “I believe civilised societies resolve their difference through dialogues,” he added.

The PM said in case there’s another cold war, the developing world will suffer. He referred to the rise in oil prices because of the threat of war between Russia and Ukraine.

Imran maintained that Ukraine and Russia supply wheat to the world, "imagine if there’s conflict what will happen to the poorer countries" already reeling from the impact of the Covid-19, questioned the premier.

Money laundering and Kashmir dispute

The PM also talked about money laundering by the ruling elite of the developing world, saying the illicit outflow of cash and climate change were the two biggest challenges faced by the world.

He said the global powers should make laws to curb the illegal flow of money from the developing world just like they have legislated to curb terror financing and drug money.

Speaking about Kashmir, he said he reached out to India in 2018 to resolve the Kashmir issue. “I told them our only issue is Kashmir. Let’s sit down at [the] table and resolve it,” Imran said, adding that he knew “India better than most people”.

However, India has been taken over a “mad” and “racist” ideology inspired by the Nazis, Imran said, adding that the founding fathers of the ruling party in India were inspired by the Nazi ideology.


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