Pakistan PM Imran Khan was seen informally interacting with Russian president Vladimir Putin on several occasions at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) leaders’ summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Khan’s interactions and informal meeting with Putin, on the sidelines of the summit, focused on issues mainly Afghanistan, Middle East, Iran and Kashmir. Qureshi further said that the ‘Russian President appreciated Pakistan’s role and efforts for promoting regional peace and security’.
Previously, while giving an interview to Russian state news outlet Sputnik, PM Khan had said that Pakistan was interested in procuring arms from Russia, adding that he was happy that his country was moving ‘closer to Russia in the changing world’.
“Yes, we are looking for arms from Russia, and I know our military is already in touch with the Russian military,” PM Khan told the Russian news outlet on Thursday. He further argued that where his country previously used to rely on the U.S. as an ally and a trading partner, China’s Belt and Road Initiative, especially with the CPEC, has created a shift in his country’s overall outlook.
When Khan was asked by the Sputnik correspondent as to what would he like to say to the Russian and international audience? He replied,
Well, to the Russian audience I would say the one thing — that Pakistan and Russia, and before was the Soviet Union, we did not have very good relationship with each other. And then, when [there was] the Afghan jihad, when the Soviets went to Afghanistan, we were in opposing camps. But times have changed now. And I am very happy that we now are moving closer to Russia, we are developing our relationship with them. And we hope that this relationship will keep improving, and there will be more people-to-people contact — people from Russia will come over to Pakistan. It is one of the most diverse countries in the world. We are opening up Pakistan to tourism. And so we hope people from Russia will come to Pakistan. And, also, I hope to go and visit Russia on an official visit, I look forward to that. I just feel that it is important now that Russia and Pakistan move closer.
PM Khan also discussed peace with India and hoped that New Delhi will responded positively to Pakistan’s peace overtures.
Khan also touched upon improving relations with the regional stakeholders.
PM Khan, in his final remarks, stressed upon the need for peace in the Middle East and how global actors need to focus on eradicating poverty.