As the domestic energy crunch escalated in Pakistan, Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif’s government on Saturday expressed willingness to import oil and wheat from Russia. Citing ‘open policy’, the Foreign Office (FO) of Pakistan said that the decision was “driven by national interest” to expand trade relations. “Our policy is clear, you know in terms of expanding economic and trade relations, we have an open policy, driven by national interests- where ever wherever we see there is a national benefit we pursue those options and avenues,” the spokesperson for Pak FO Asim Iftikhar was quoted as saying at a presser by the Express Tribune.
This comes after former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday lauded India for purchasing “cheaper oil” from Russia to reduce increasing fuel prices amid global inflation. He went on to say: “India, the strategic ally of the US has managed to reduce fuel prices by PKR 25/L by buying oil from Russia” at a discounted rate. Just to note, petrol and diesel prices dropped in metro cities in India. In Delhi and Mumbai petrol retailed at Rs. 96.7/L and Rs. 111.35/L, as per Indian Oil Corporation on May 26, the rate has remained unchanged for two days ahead.
Pakistan drops subsidies on fuel prices
Meanwhile, Pakistan dropped the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) government subsidies on fuel, in order to revive the $6 billion loan programme from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to uplift the national economy. The programme was stalled since April as the apex financial body considered As the nationwide fuel prices skyrocketed, petrol and diesel in Pakistan rose by at least 20% or PKR 30/L on Friday. Ever since petrol retailed in Pakistan at PKR 179.86 and diesel at PKR 174.15, the Dawn reported. Despite the massive rise, Islamabad is still reeling from a loss of PKR 56/L, said Pakistan Finance Minister Miftah Ismail.
According to the Tribune report, there is no written agreement between Moscow and Islamabad. In addition, Pakistan is also incapacitated to refine Russian crude oil imports. “The government is in touch with friends and partners and we are also in consultation with the Russia side on the subject,” Iftikhar told the publication. He also acknowledged the dire shortage of food grains in the country, adding that Islamabad is looking forward to importing “a certain quantity it wheat utilising various options- international budding and G2G options.”
Pakistan wants balanced relations with China, US: Iftikar
Iftikhar also briefly highlighted the minutes of the discussion with his American counterpart Antony Blinken over warnings about the threat posed by China’s “debt-trap diplomacy” and bilateral relations with the US. “We want objective and balanced and broad-based relations with major powers, including the US and China and, will continue to pursue that policy. And in that context, you see we engage closely with China,” he said. Noting the significance of Beijing’s homegrown Belt and Road Initiative and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the FO spokesperson also told Blinken that Islamabad “always encourages major powers to adopt policies that are competitive rather than confrontational.”
(Image: @shehbazsharif_Instagram / @KremlinRussia_E_Twitter)