Imran, Putin to discuss strengthening defence

Prime Minister Imran Khan says Islamabad is hopeful of increasing military ties with Moscow ahead of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Bishkek.

The premier, who arrived in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek on Thursday, will represent Pakistan in the 19th meeting of the council of the heads of states of the SCO.

“We have developed cooperation with Russia between our defense forces … and hope to deepen our contacts,” the PM said while speaking to a Russian publication.

“Most of the 50s, 60s, 70s were spent in the Cold War region, where India was close to the Soviet Union, and Pakistan was close to the United States. We were in different camps. Now things have changed … It is refreshing that we have developed our contacts with Russia, and they are developing all the time,” he said.

To a question on whether Islamabad intends to purchase weapons from Moscow, the premier said the Pakistani and Russian militaries were already coordinating on the matter. “First, we hope that our tension with India decreases, so we do not have to buy arms because we want to spend money on human development. But, yes, we are looking for arms from Russia, and I know our military is already in touch with the Russian military,” said the PM.

Responding to a question regarding India, Khan once again offered Delhi to resolve all differences through dialogue, saying that there was no way that two nuclear-armed countries should think of resolving differences through military means.

Khan said Kashmir is the main issue between Pakistan and India and both the countries should sit on the negotiating table to resolve that issue peacefully. Pakistan believes that progress comes with peace and tensions with neighbours divert resources that can be spent on human beings, Radio Pakistan quoted the prime minister as saying.

The prime minister said Pakistan was willing to pursue all options – including international mediation – to resolve issues with its neighbours. “Pakistan is looking for any kind of mediation because Pakistan believes that progress comes with peace.”

Delving further on the matter, PM Imran said peace among India and Pakistan was entirely dependent on the issue of Kashmir. “The only difference, if we resolve that there will be peace in the subcontinent, that’s Kashmir. Unfortunately, Kashmir can only be resolved if the people of Kashmir are given the right of self-determination, which was guaranteed to them by the United Nations in 1945.”

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