Pakistan to import wheat, natural gas from Russia

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will import 2 million metric tons of wheat and natural gas from Russia despite the international sanctions on Moscow that came with its attacks in Ukraine, according to the prime minister.

Announcing the development, Imran Khan said Islamabad will import the gas to meet Pakistan’s rising domestic and industrial needs.

“We have signed agreements with them to import natural gas because Pakistan’s own gas reserves are depleting,” he said in his televised address to the nation earlier this week.

“Insha’Allah (God willing), the time will tell that we have had great discussions.”

In his address, Khan, who paid a two-day maiden visit to Moscow last week, said Islamabad would toe an “independent” foreign policy, and no longer join “anyone’s” war.

“My two recent visits to China and Russia have earned respect for Pakistan. You will soon see the benefits of these visits,” he contended.

Khan has expressed concern over the attacks in Ukraine. A post-meeting statement said Khan told President Vladimir Putin he “regretted the latest situation between Russia and Ukraine” and had hoped “diplomacy could avert a military conflict.”

Now, the top diplomats of 22 countries stationed in Islamabad have urged Pakistan to support a resolution condemning the violence in Ukraine in the United Nations General Assembly.

Pakistan and Russia have inked two agreements — in 2015 and 2021– for the construction of a 1,100-kilometre (684-mile) gas pipeline, known as the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline Project, from Karachi to Punjab.

The $2.5-billion project is slated to begin next year, but analysts see dim chances for meeting the deadline due to myriad global sanctions on Moscow, which will have longtime impacts.

Referring to Pakistan’s participation in Washington’s war against terrorism, Khan said Islamabad conceded heavy losses in terms of lives and economy in the so-called war.

“We lost 80,000 lives and conceded a loss of $150 billion by participating in the war (against terrorism), although we had nothing to do with it. No Pakistani was involved in 9/11 terrorist attacks in Washington and New York,” he noted.

“The most shameful thing was that our ally was bombing our own country,” he said referring to over 400 US drone strikes on Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region near Afghanistan border from 2004 to 2016.

Khan took the opportunity to target his political opponents, blaming his predecessor Nawaz Sharif and former President Asif Zardari for their tacit support to the US drone strikes.

“Those whose assets are abroad, they cannot forge an independent foreign policy. Only those who have no foreign assets can do this,” he said.

Khan also announced some measures including a reduction in petroleum and electricity prices in an attempt to mitigate rising inflation in the country.

The Russia-Ukraine violence entered its sixth day on Tuesday.

The violence has been met with outrage from the international community, with the European Union, UK, Japan, and the US implementing a range of economic sanctions on Russia.

Western countries have also agreed to supply weapons to Ukraine.

Western nations are also paying Russia hundreds of millions of dollars every day for gas and oil imports, despite sanctions imposed on Moscow’s banking and aviation sectors.

With around 40 percent of Europe’s energy needs imported from Russia, leaders are scrambling to find alternatives.

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