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Facing trouble at home, Imran praises India’s ‘independent foreign policy’ ahead of no-trust vote

“I haven’t bowed before anyone and will not let my nation bow either,” said Khan, who is rallying public support ahead of a no-confidence vote against him.

Published: 21st March 2022 04:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st March 2022 08:25 AM   |  A+A-

Pakistan PM Imran Khan

Pakistan PM Imran Khan (Photo | AP)

By Express News Service

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday praised India for following an “independent foreign policy” even while being part of Quad and importing crude oil from Russia despite American sanctions. He said his foreign policy would also favour the people of Pakistan.

“I haven’t bowed before anyone and will not let my nation bow either,” said Khan, who is rallying public support ahead of a no-confidence vote against him. Khan said he had said “absolutely no” to the EU envoys seeking Pakistan’s support against Russia over the Ukraine conflict.

Khan, a fierce critic of the ruling NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, spoke highly of India's foreign policy.

Addressing a public rally in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, he told his supporters that he would like to praise the neighbouring country India as it was having an "independent foreign policy".

Khan said that India, which is a part of the Quad grouping, has imported crude oil from Russia despite American sanctions on Moscow.

The Quad grouping has the US, India, Japan and Australia as its members.

The US-led Western countries have imposed crippling economic sanctions on Russia for its military offensive in Ukraine which was ordered by President Vladimir Putin on February 24.

Prime Minister Khan said that his foreign policy would also favour the people of Pakistan.

"I haven't bowed before anyone and will not let my nation bow either," said Khan, who is rallying public support ahead of a no-confidence vote against him in Parliament.

Breaking from the tradition of not openly discussing complicated matters relating to foreign relations in public rallies, Khan mentioned that he had said "absolutely no" to the European Union (EU) envoys seeking Pakistan's support against Russia in the Russia-Ukraine conflict because "they broke protocol by making the request".

He said that Pakistan would have gained nothing by complying with the EU's request.

"We became part of America's war against terror in Afghanistan and lost 80,000 people and USD 100 billion," he said.

It is for the second time he spoke against a statement by the EU and other Western countries asking Pakistan earlier this month to condemn the Russian intervention in Ukraine.

In his previous address, Khan had also asked the EU if it would make a similar demand to India.

In another endorsement for New Delhi’s stand vis-a-vis the conflict, Australia on Sunday said the Quad member countries has accepted India’s position on the Russian attack on Ukraine.

The crisis in Ukraine is expected to figure in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s virtual summit with his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on Monday.

Unlike other Quad countries — the US, Japan and Australia — India has not condemned the Russian invasion and has stressed conflict resolution through dialogue and diplomacy.

“The Quad countries have accepted India’s position. We understand that each country has a bilateral relationship and it is clear from the comments of the MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) and Prime Minister Modi himself that he has used his contacts to call for the end of the conflict and no country will be unhappy with that,” Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell told reporters when asked about the disquiet in the West over India’s refusal to condemn the Russian invasion.

Pakistan's National Assembly will convene on Friday to take up a no-trust motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, who offered a deal to his dissent lawmakers on Sunday in an effort to overcome his toughest political test since assuming office in 2018.

Around 100 lawmakers from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) submitted the no-confidence motion before the National Assembly Secretariat on March 8, alleging that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government led by Khan was responsible for the economic crisis and the spiralling inflation in the country.

On Sunday, the NA Secretariat issued a notification, clearing the dust regarding the key session which the opposition had demanded to be convened by March 21 as per the legal requirements.

"The session will convene at 11 am on Friday and will be the 41st session of the current National Assembly," according to the notification.

Speaker Asad Qaiser summoned the session under the power given to him by Article 54 (3) and 254 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

The opposition has been saying that the session should be summoned within 14 days but Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said at a press conference it can be delayed due to extraordinary circumstances.

The delay, in this case, is due to the high-profile 48th summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) starting from March 22 at the Parliament House.

Initially, the opposition had threatened to stage a sit-in if the session was not called on time.

However, the joint opposition toned down its stance by stressing that Pakistan's political turmoil will not be allowed to affect the event in any way.

The lower house will deliberate on the opposition's no-confidence resolution against Prime Minister Khan on March 25.

Once the motion is formally taken up by the house, the voting should be done between three to seven days.

Khan, 69, is heading a coalition government and he can be removed if some of the partners decide to switch sides.

In the 342-member National Assembly, the Opposition needs 172 votes to remove Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician.

The PTI has 155 members in the House and needs at least 172 lawmakers on its side to remain in the government.

The party has the support of 23 members belonging to at least six political parties.

Nearly two dozen dissident lawmakers of the ruling party recently came out in the open ahead of voting on the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Khan, with the government accusing opposition parties of horse-trading.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Khan on Sunday offered an olive branch to rebel lawmakers of his party saying he was ready to forgive them like a 'compassionate father' if they returned to the party fold.

"I will forgive you if you come back. We all commit mistakes. I am like a father who forgives his children and I will pardon you as well and no action will be taken against you," he said while addressing a public rally in Malakand district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

At the same time, he warned that those not heeding to his words should be ready to face a "social boycott'.

"Return to the party's fold or face social boycott," he warned the rebel PTI lawmakers.

Before offering the olive branch, Khan accused them of selling their conscience and told the rebel lawmakers that they will be forever known as people who "sold their conscience" and it will be difficult for them to attend social events like marriages.

"Even it will be difficult for them to arrange marriages of their kids," he said.

In another development, supporters of rival parties were protesting against or in favour of various PTI lawmakers who announced to go against Khan.

Dawn reported that the PTI supporters gathered outside the house of rebel lawmaker Malik Ahmed Hassan Dehar in Multan to protest against him, while workers of the opposition Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) staged a rally outside the residence of another PTI dissident Noor Alam Khan in Peshawar to give moral support to him and his family.

Similar rallies were also held at other places like Lahore after Khan defended the peaceful right of his party activists against the 'turncoats'.

On Saturday, the ruling party issued show-cause notices to its dissident lawmakers for alleged defection and sought an explanation from them by March 26 as to why they may not be declared defectors and disqualified as a member of the National Assembly.

Both government and opposition politicians have been working overtime to tilt the balance in their favour.

The PPP held the meeting of its core committee, followed by the meeting of its leaders with PML-N and JUI-F leaders at a lunch hosted by PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif.

Khan also consulted his core group about the latest situation.

He has told his supporters that the no-trust move would fail.

Pakistan's Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on Sunday warned the opposition leaders not to disrupt the OIC meeting here as he termed it a matter of national security, amid opposition threat to block the high-profile conference.

"I declare here that no one can dare to create any sort of hurdle in the holding of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conference because it is an issue of security of Pakistan,” Rashid said at a press conference.

The minister asserted that up to 15,000 security personnel of police and the paramilitary forces would be deployed to provide security to the delegates of Muslim countries coming to participate in the conference.

The two-day event at the Parliament will have representatives of more than 50 countries in attendance.

"Those due to attend the conference are our guests and the Pakistan Army has taken up the task of providing security to them," he said earlier, adding that the government would "take care" of the opposition with ease and no one could dare create an obstacle in the way of the meeting.

Initially, the opposition had threatened to stage a sit-in if the national assembly session was not called on time to take up a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

However, the joint opposition toned down its stance on Sunday stressing that Pakistan's political turmoil will not be allowed to affect the event in any way.

"The opposition pledges to do its utmost to create an atmosphere in which the distinguished guests will be able to carry out their activities with full attention, dedication and determination," said a joint statement issued by opposition parties.

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser on Sunday announced to convene the assembly session on March 25 to take up the no-trust motion against Prime Minister Khan.

Around 100 lawmakers from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) submitted the no-confidence motion before the National Assembly Secretariat on March 8, alleging that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government led by Prime Minister Khan was responsible for the economic crisis and the spiralling inflation in the country.

Opposition leaders threat to disrupt the OIC meeting created panic among the Islamabad-based ambassadors of the Muslim countries, according to Rashid.

"I received calls from at least 22 ambassadors and I told everyone that come what the conference would be held as per schedule," he said at the press conference.

The OIC is a 57-member grouping of Muslim majority nations, including Pakistan.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said the OIC session will coincide with 75th-anniversary celebrations of Pakistan's Independence Day.

The 48th summit of the OIC-CFM will be held on March 22 and 23 under the theme: "Building Partnerships for Unity, Justice, and Development.

Pakistan said on Sunday that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi would attend the conference of foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) here.

Pakistan is hosting the 48th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the OIC here on March 22-23, the Foreign Office said in a statement.

Foreign Ministers and high-level dignitaries from OIC Member and Observer States are attending the CFM.

They will also witness the Pakistan Day Parade on March 23 as Guests of Honour.

"State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi of the People's Republic of China will attend as a Special Guest," said the FO.

Senior officials from non-OIC countries, senior representatives from the United Nations system, regional and international organisations, including the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council will also participate in the conference.

Prime Minister Imran Khan will deliver the keynote address at the Inaugural Session on March 22.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will chair the CFM.

The FO said that the CFM assumes special significance given the backdrop of opportunities and challenges before the Muslim world in the political, security, social and economic spheres.

Apart from an appraisal of the global and regional landscapes, the CFM will inter alia reaffirm the long-standing solidarity and support of its membership with the people of Palestine; reiterate its resolve to combat rising Islamophobia; and discuss strategies to counter the effects of climate change, vaccine inequity and erosion in progress towards SDGs.

The Ministerial meeting will take stock of the decisions taken at the 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC-CFM held in Islamabad in December 2021 to address the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

The Islamabad Ministerial will consider and adopt over 100 resolutions on a broad range of issues, including peace and security; economic development; cultural and scientific cooperation; and humanitarian, legal, administrative and financial matters.

The thematic focus of the Ministerial Conference is on 'Partnering for Unity, Justice and Development'.

(With PTI Inputs)



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