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Ukraine minefield greets Imran Khan during Russia visit

During his four-day visit, the former swing bowler stamped approval yet again on “One China” policy and on Beijing’s claim on South China Sea

Ukraine minefield greets Imran Khan during Russia visit
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When Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Niazi was in Beijing for the Winter Olympics this month, he reiterated Islamabad's carte blanche support to China on its harsh policies towards Muslim majority Sinkiang, Buddhist majority Tibet and Hong Kong.

During his four-day visit, the former swing bowler stamped approval yet again on "One China" policy and on Beijing's claim on South China Sea. He railed against the west and stood up to defend the Chinese Belt Road Initiative, which President Xi Jinping described as a part of community of shared destiny in a 2013 speech.

Today, when the entire US-led west has slammed the Russian intervention in two breakaway mini-republics in Ukraine and even China has not come out in open support of Moscow, PM Imran Khan is slated to go on a two-day trip to meet President Vladimir Putin.

It will be interesting to watch how PM Khan, famous for swinging cricket ball both ways, diplomatically manoeuvres the Ukraine minefield in Moscow with all western eyes on the Pakistani leader. The last Pakistan PM to visit Russia was Nawaz Sharif in March 1999, on the eve of Kargil war.

While Niazi has tried to set aside the timing of the visit by saying that it was decided before the Ukraine crisis, the Pakistani leader may find himself between a rock and a hard place as the entire western bloc will take very unkindly if he ends up justifying Ukraine gambit of President Putin.

As Pak PM's criticism of the Russian move is out of question, he will be walking on the razor's edge throughout the trip and will try and avoid reference to Ukraine crisis in the joint statement.

For the record, the focus will be the humanitarian crisis in third country Afghanistan and recognition of the Islamist Taliban government occupying Kabul since the US led forces departed hurriedly on August 15, 2021.

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