Imran Khan Has a Solid Point About India Buying Russian Oil Despite Its Ties with the US

Relations with Russia were largely an abstract concept for those in Pakistan who were even aware of how rapidly ties had been improving in recent years, but Prime Minister Khan just made them a focal point of his campaign for immediate, free, and fair elections by explaining how they would have improved their everyday lives if the reported deal for receiving a 30% discount on agricultural and energy imports was clinched.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed Overseas Pakistanis by video on Saturday, during which time he once again brought up the negotiations that he was holding with Russia prior to his scandalous ouster. According to the PTI Chairman, “Russia was offering oil at a 30% discounted price. India negotiated with Russia and is buying cheap oil when India has a strategic alliance with the United States. But the US got angry with us.” This is a solid point that deserves to be further elaborated upon.

The new authorities that replaced him have been tight-lipped about his revelation since he first started talking about it last month during one of the largest-ever rallies that Pakistan has held in its history. The conspicuous silence over this issue that’s objectively in the national interest considering the ongoing food and fuel crises across the world raised suspicions that Chairman Khan might be onto something when speculating that they’re operating under American influence.

While it’s true that baby steps have recently been made for maintaining the momentum in their newly strengthened relationship, no credible reports have emerged from either side relating to the negotiations that the former premier informed the public about. This leads observers to wonder whether the process has been frozen since Pakistan’s change of government, perhaps because the new authorities have yet to decide if it’s wise to continue with these talks.

The post-PTI government’s priority very clearly seems to be improving Pakistan’s troubled ties with the West, particularly the US, which are approaching a turning point following Secretary of State Blinken’s invitation to his Pakistani counterpart to visit New York City to attend an upcoming UN Summit. The timing is inconvenient though since the country’s political, economic, and international uncertainties are converging around the time of Foreign Minister Bhutto’s prospective visit.

It also deserves mentioning that no reports have since emerged of the US countering Russia’s reported 30% discount deal on agricultural and energy imports. Seeing as how no progress has been made on those talks that Chairman Khan informed the public about, one can conclude that Islamabad isn’t all that interested in them anymore after his ouster or that they’re treading very carefully to avoid offending the US ahead of their hoped-for rapprochement with Pakistan’s traditional partner.

Returning to what the former Prime Minister told Overseas Pakistanis, it certainly seems as though he was correct in saying that “the US got angry with us” despite not having all that much of a problem with India purchasing the same energy products for a presumably similar discount. To be sure, America has commenced a hypocritical infowar campaign against India in response to its refusal to unilaterally concede on its objective national interests, but Delhi still went through with these deals regardless.

This precedent goes to show that Pakistan could probably have done the same if its new leadership had the political will, which very clearly seems to be absent as explained. Blinken still criticized the country’s lowered ranking on Reporters Without Borders’ latest World Press Freedom Index in spite of former Prime Minister Khan’s ouster and the rise of putatively pro-American politicians in his place. This was done even though they seem to have frozen talks with Russia over its 30% discounted import deal.

What this observation goes to show is that unilaterally conceding on an issue of objective national interests like the new authorities arguably seem to have done with respect to de facto freezing talks with Russia over the deal that Chairman Khan informed the public about doesn’t guarantee any relief from US pressure. To the contrary, it might very well embolden America to pressure such states even more since it might suspect that they’re backtracking out of weakness, not a desire for rapprochement.

There’s also an image liability connected to the questions about this seemingly frozen deal with Russia. The new authorities claimed that they ousted former Prime Minister Khan due to his mismanagement of the economy, yet if that were truly all that there was to it, then one would imagine that they’d prioritize these negotiations in order to alleviate the consequences that the food and fuel crises are having for average Pakistanis. They didn’t, which makes one wonder what’s really going on.

From the perspective of an average Pakistani, it wouldn’t be surprising if their feeling of unease over these observations leads to them extending further credence to Chairman Khan’s patriotic, pro-sovereignty, and national security narratives. That could lead to even more grassroots support for his new freedom movement ahead of its planned march on Islamabad at the end of this month, which could further complicate the domestic political situation for the new authorities.

In hindsight, all of this could have been avoided had they stayed the course by continuing the negotiations on this deal that they inherited from the former premier. Instead, they’ve remained conspicuously silent about them and no credible reports about their progress have emerged from either side, nor has the US offered a counterproposal. This means that everything remains up in the air despite the urgency connected to the global food and fuel crises that are affecting every Pakistani.

Average voters across the world always care more for immediate issues that most directly affect them than those related to faraway places abroad. Relations with Russia were largely an abstract concept for those in Pakistan who were even aware of how rapidly ties had been improving in recent years, but Prime Minister Khan just made them a focal point of his campaign for immediate, free, and fair elections by explaining how they would have improved their everyday lives if the reported deal had been clinched.

“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander”, as they say, so many might wonder why it was okay for India to bravely defy the US by purchasing discounted oil from Russia while Pakistan’s new authorities have thus far trodden very cautiously and seem to have practically frozen such talks thus far. Chairman Khan therefore made a solid point that will likely resonate with many Pakistanis the more that they reflect upon it, which adds to his credibility while eroding his replacements’.

By Andrew Korybko
Source: OneWorld

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