Pakistan commits to a ‘long-term, multidimensional relationship with Russia on Khan’s two-day visit that coincided with the Ukraine invasion.
New Delhi: As the world watched in shock the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan sat in the Kremlin doing what he does best — raising the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
On Thursday, in his first-ever summit meeting with President Vladimir Putin, which ran concurrently with the invasion, Khan underscored the “imperative” of a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir issue even as he committed to a “long-term and multidimensional” relationship with Russia.
The Pakistan PM was on a two-day visit (23-24 February) to Russia, accompanied by his cabinet members and senior officials. This was the first official visit by a Pakistan PM to Moscow in 23 years.
The three-hour meeting came while the Kremlin announced a military operation in Ukraine that prompted several countries, especially the US, to impose the strictest of actions on Moscow that are expected to adversely impact the Russian economy.
A press statement by the Pakistani government after the meeting noted the main talking points, including the Kashmir issue and bilateral ties. It also expressed regret over the Ukraine conflict.
“On the situation in South Asia, the Prime Minister highlighted the serious human rights situation in IIOJK (Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir) and underscored the imperative of peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” said the statement.
This came just weeks after the Russian Embassy in India said that Moscow would only follow Lahore and Simla agreements on the Kashmir dispute, underlining that it’s a bilateral issue between Pakistan and India.
The embassy’s comments came in the wake of a row around a documentary by Russia-backed Redfish Media — affiliated to the Russian media company RT — that likened Kashmir with that of Palestine. The release of the documentary has since been postponed.
Earlier, Khan had promised to be the “brand ambassador” of Kashmir on international forums.
“The Prime Minister also highlighted the developments detrimental to regional peace and stability and stressed the need for measures that would help keep the regional balance,” the Pakistani statement said.
On its part, Moscow issued a brief two-line statement: “The leaders of the two countries discussed the main aspects of bilateral cooperation and exchanged views on current regional topics, including developments in South Asia. Earlier in the day, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin wall.”