Pakistan open to buying oil, wheat from Russia: ‘Wherever we see there is…’
Pakistan is open to importing oil and food products from Russia, the country's foreign office spokesperson said on Saturday amid US-led Western sanctions against Moscow. Asim Iftikhar told a press briefing that the government has an "open policy" driven by a national interest to expand economic and trade relations.
"Our policy is clear, you know in terms of expanding economic and trade relations, we have an open policy, driven by national interest. Wherever we see there is a national benefit, we pursue those options and avenues," Iftikhar said, as quoted by The Express Tribune, while responding to a question that whether or not Pakistan was considering importing oil and food grains from Russia.
The Shehbaz Sharif government has been struggling to revive a flailing economy left behind by ousted prime minister Imran Khan. The new government, left with fewer options, recently announced a record reduction in subsidies on petroleum products.
The reduction led to a rise in the ex-depot prices of petrol to ₹179.86 per litre, high-speed diesel to Rs174.15, and kerosene to ₹155.56. The government, however, would be still bearing a cost of ₹56.71 per litre on high-speed diesel, ₹21.83 on petrol, and ₹17.02 on kerosene.
Reports suggest that the move has been taken to placate the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for an economic bailout.
The move comes amid Imran Khan's claim that the Sharif government had dropped plans to procure cheap Russian oil that his government managed to secure. Khan visited Moscow the day Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "special military operation" in Ukraine. The visit, aimed at pushing for the construction of a delayed gas pipeline to be built in collaboration with Russian companies. was termed by many as ill-timed.
Pakistan's new foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari recently defended Imran Khan's visit to Moscow.
"He (Khan) conducted that trip as part of his foreign policy and without knowing that -- no one is psychic, no one has a sixth sense -- there's no way we could have possibly known that that would be the time when the current conflict will start," the Pakistan foreign minister said.
"In his capacity as prime minister, the way he conducted himself in foreign policy, particularly in the context of this Russian trip, I will go as far as to defend the fact that he did not know the Ukraine conflict will start on the very day that he was there," he added.
(With ANI inputs)
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