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Pakistan: In US, Bilawal defends Imran’s Moscow visit

Says Pakistan won’t take the side of any aggressor; calls for economic issues to be addressed on priority

Foreign Minister of Pakistan Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday strongly defended Imran Khan’s Moscow visit, saying there was no way for the former prime minister to know that Russia would invade Ukraine on the day he landed in the Russian capital.

The foreign minister made these remarks during a news briefing at the UN headquarters when a journalist drew his attention to Mr Khan’s Feb 24 visit to Moscow and asked how the new government was going to rectify the `mistakes’ of its predecessors.

“As far the former prime minister’s trip to Russia, I would absolutely defend the former prime minister of Pakistan. He 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,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari said. “And I believe it is very unfair to punish Pakistan for such an innocent action.”

Pakistan, he said, was “absolutely clear” that it has to stand by the principles of the United Nations, including that of non-use of force, on this issue.

“We are not part of any conflict. We do not wish to be part of any conflict. In fact, we would continue to emphasise on the importance of peace,” he said.

“We would continue to emphasise on the importance of dialogue and diplomacy to resolve this conflict as soon as possible. And we will certainly not take any side or take the side of any aggressor within this context.”

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