West pushes Pakistan to ‘vote against Russia’ at UN

Diplomatic sources say US is certainly keen that Islamabad abandons its policy of ‘neutrality’ on Ukraine conflict


Kamran Yousaf October 07, 2022
President Putin and PM Shehbaz during the SCO huddle. PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD:

The United States and its allies are seeking Pakistan's support for the resolution to be tabled at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) next week against Russia for invading Ukraine.

The US and its western allies are set to move a resolution at the UNGA, condemning the Russia invasion and seeking withdrawal of Russian forces from the Ukrainian territories.

In order to garner maximum support, the US is particularly eyeing support of the countries, which abstained from voting in March on the similar resolution.

Pakistan at the time joined China, India and other countries to stay away from voting, something that drew strong reaction from European countries and the US.

Also read: Pakistan urged to vote against Russia’s blitzkrieg at UNGA

They termed abstention as equal to backing the Russian invasion. Pakistan defended its move, insisting that siding with either side would deny the country a role of a possible peace broker.

Pakistan has maintained delicate balance on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It did express concerns over the humanitarian situation in Ukraine but stopped short of denouncing Russia.

However, the US and other European countries want Pakistan to take a clear stance.

Ahead of the expected voting on the resolution against Russia, many western countries are in contact with Pakistan to seek its support.

Since the change of government, there have been visible exchanges between Pakistan and the western countries. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session met several European leaders including from France, Germany, Spain and others.

There has also been a flurry of meetings between Pakistan and the US in recent months.

While PM Shehbaz held a brief interaction with President Joe Biden, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had back-to-back visits to Washington.

It is believed that in these interactions, Russia has remained one of the main talking points between the two sides. Diplomatic sources said the US is certainly keen that Pakistan abandons its policy of "neutrality" on Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Foreign Office sources told The Express Tribune that Pakistan is unlikely to change its stance because it doesn't want to become party to the conflict between big powers.

Nevertheless, officially Pakistan is tight-lipped and is not ready to reveal its strategy before the UNGA voting.

Former prime minister Imran Khan has cited one of the main reasons behind his ouster was his government's move to resist the US pressure on Russia.

The basis of his claim was a classified cypher that the Pakistani envoy wrote in March in which he quoted a US diplomat expressing his anger over Imran’s visit to Moscow.

Also read: At UN, Pakistan refuses to condemn Russia

The deposed prime minister insisted he was punished for pursuing an independent foreign policy particularly seeking deeper ties with Russia.

The cypher is once again in the spotlight after a series of audio leaks show that how former PM Imran tried to manipulate the diplomatic cable for political purposes.

At the weekly briefing on Friday, Foreign Office Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said the original cypher was "safe and secure" without going into debate about claims by the prime minister that the PM copy was missing.

"We have stated our position clearly; including about the system that handles these documents. So you may like to refer to that. It is very evident that these documents are handled, and are present in the Foreign Ministry, in a proper, safe and secure situation," the spokesperson added.

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