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If Imran Khan has self-respect, he should cancel Russia trip: Tharoor

Tharoor also demanded India criticise the Russian attack

imran reuters Imran Khan | Reuters

Imran Khan's maiden visit to Russia as Pakistan's prime minister appears to have gotten off to an ominous start. Hours before Russia launched its attack on Ukraine early on Thursday, Imran claimed “What a time I have come, so much excitement”.

Imran made the comment after he was received at the airport in Moscow by a Russian minister late on Wednesday night (local time). The visit by Imran is the first by a Pakistani prime minister in over 20 years. The comment led to considerable trolling of Imran on social media.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who has criticised the Russian military action, argued Imran Khan should cancel the Russia trip. He tweeted, “If @imrankhanPTI has any self-respect, he will do what Vajpayee Sahib did when China attacked Vietnam during his 1979 visit: he should cancel his trip immediately & go home. Otherwise he is complicit in the invasion.”

Tharoor was referring to Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to China when he was minister for external affairs in the Morarji Desai government. Vajpayee ended his visit to China a day early in protest against China's invasion of Vietnam. The Vajpayee visit to China was a breakthrough in bilateral ties as it was the first by a senior political leader from New Delhi since the 1962 war.

Imran had adopted a tentative approach on the Ukraine issue. “I am not a believer in military conflicts. I believe the civilised societies resolve the difference through dialogues and countries that rely on military conflicts have not studied history properly,” Imran Khan said during an interview with Russia's state-run television network RT on the eve of his visit.

Imran is expected to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. The two countries are not just exploring options to deepen economic ties, but Russia is also keen to sell arms to Pakistan, something it avoided in the past because of India's opposition.

Tharoor prods Modi govt

Tharoor had demanded that India criticise the Russian attack on Ukraine. He had tweeted, “So Russia is conducting a 'regime change' operation. How long can India,which had consistently opposed such interventions, stay silent? However much one appreciates Moscow’s legitimate security concerns,resort to war is impossible to accept or justify. We should demand they stop.”

Taking issue with India's cautious stance on the Ukraine crisis, Tharoor argued, “Principles do not cease to be relevant depending on the identity of the invader.”


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