Political observers, analysts and commentators in Pakistan media have come hard on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Russia. The fact that Imran landed in Moscow on a day when Russia-Ukraine conflict started, is puzzling the political commentators back home. Most have them are left wondering about Imran’s urgency of paying the visit when the other countries are carefully watching the situation. Even though the prime minister had played down the timing of the visit and the effect it would have on the country’s relations with the West, some analysts believe it is a double-edged sword and that the government must tread with caution.
The National Security Adviser (NSA) of Pakistan Moeed Yusuf also tried to downplay the timing of Imran’s visit by claiming the agenda of the visit to be purely bilateral. However, the political commentators were quick to point out the recent gaffes by Imran Khan during his earlier bilateral visits. They apprehend that going by Imran’s old statements during such visits, he can again embarrass the country in context of the US-Russia tussle on Ukraine conflict. The world saw the way Imran Khan had announced to facilitate friendship between China and US during recent winter Olympics. Earlier, he had spoken of forging friendship between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Also, the manner in which he dragged India’s name in an interview prior to the visit can not be a reliable indicator of his sticking to the agenda in Moscow.
Further, domestic media is filled with opinion that the invitation to visit Moscow was not extended by President Putin but was sought by Pakistan to soothe hurt ego of Imran Khan. The fragile economic and domestic state in Pakistan further makes Imran’s choice of timing more confusing. Notably, the economy is reeling under severe inflation, rising debt and poor industrial performance which require the Prime Minister to advance the ongoing negotiations with IMF and other prospective creditors. Moreover, the rapidly evolving political situation is threatening his political career. The opposition is said to be readying a proposal for no-confidence motion against Imran while the all powerful Pakistan army is said to turned his back towards his government.
Murtaza Solangi, a prominent journalist of the Naya Daur-The Friday Times commented that anybody could see the Russia-Ukraine tension escalating to full blown war. Was Imran Khan not told that he might literally end up in the war theater and it was not wise to end up on Moscow at this time? What kind of business could you conduct with Putin at this hour?
Speaking at Naya Daur YouTube channel, a famous TV panelist Raza Rumi said that Imran Khan who is on the visit of Russia had said that he will play his role for friendship between Russia and Ukraine. He wondered how Imran Khan who doesn’t talk to opposition in his own country can speak of reconciliation between other countries.
Another Senior journalist from Pakistan, Iftikhar Ahmed found nothing significant in this visit. Noting that he is being accompanied by a large entourage, he reiterated that Imran Khan will get nothing. A country always sees its own interests. Ahmed said that the Moscow visit will be taken only a token support to Putin on the Ukraine issue.