Bilawal defends former PM Imran’s visit to Russia | The Express Tribune

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has defended former prime minister Imran Khan’s visit to Russia, saying “it is very unfair to punish Pakistan for such an innocent action”.

“I absolutely would defend the former prime minister of Pakistan… Pakistan prime minister conducted that [Russia] trip as part of his foreign policy,” FM Bilawal said while responding to a question during a press briefing in New York on Thursday.

“Pakistan is absolutely clear as far as it comes to the principles of non-use of force and all of the principles of the United Nations,” he added. “We stand by the principles.”

“We are not part of the conflict. We do not wish to be a part of the conflict,” he said, adding that Islamabad will continue to emphasise the importance of peace, dialogue and diplomacy to resolve this Russia-Ukraine conflict “as soon as possible”. “We will certainly not take the side of any aggressor…”

Former PM Imran has claimed that the US punished him for pursuing an “independent foreign policy”, particularly in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The US wanted Pakistan to take a clear stance against Russia and even advised Islamabad not to go ahead with the prime minister’s visit to Moscow.

Earlier, FM Bilawal while addressing an open debate of the UNSC in connection with ‘Conflict and Food Security’ said that New Delhi’s illegal actions in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) is an insult to the United Nations and its resolutions related to the dispute.

He said the Kashmir dispute has become a symbol of dysfunction of the UN, saying that it has failed to stop the Indian government from abrogating the semi-autonomous status of the disputed region.

Also read: Imran-Putin rendezvous: key takeaways

“The actions of August 5, 2019 and May 5, 2022, are not only an insult to the people of Kashmir but an insult to the UN. It’s an insult to the Security Council and its resolutions and the fourth Geneva Convention,” he remarked.

He also drew the international community’s attention towards the Narendra Modi-led government’s attempts to turn the Muslim majority of IIOJK into minority.

“The people of occupied territories including IIOJK and Palestine are constantly imprisoned by perpetual conflicts. They are arbitrarily and inhumanly suffering from immense misery including hunger,” he added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government broke up IIOJK into two federal territories in 2019 as part of a move to tighten its grip over the disputed region

Anticipating protests, the government put many political leaders under house arrest and cut off internet connections when it announced the move to split the state. IIOJK originally comprised the mainly Muslim Kashmir Valley, the Hindu-dominated Jammu region, and the remote Buddhist enclave of Ladakh.

India published earlier this month a new list of redrawn political constituencies for IIOJK, giving greater representation to the Muslim-majority region’s Hindu areas and paving the way for fresh elections.

The IIOJK government said a delimitation commission had finalised 90 assembly constituencies for J&K, excluding Ladakh, with 43 seats for Jammu and 47 for Kashmir. Earlier, Jammu had 37 seats and the Kashmir valley 46.

(With additional input from Reuters)

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