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Pressure grows on Pakistan to condemn Russian incursion of Ukraine

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ISLAMABAD: The ambassadors of the European Union nations have urged Pakistan to support an emergency resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine after the country had earlier abstained from voting on the crisis.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is attempting a balancing act in relations with the world’s superpowers – particularly as Islamabad’s value to the United States has slipped following the withdrawal of foreign forces from neighboring Afghanistan.

“We urge Pakistan to join us in condemning Russia’s actions and to voice support for upholding the UN charter and the founding principles of international law,” said a statement on Tuesday signed by the envoys from EU member states, as well as Britain, Canada, Japan, Norway, and Switzerland.

In a joint statement signed by diplomats mostly from the West posted in Islamabad, they wanted Pakistan to join them in condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and voice support for upholding the UN Charter and founding principles of international law.

“The situation in Ukraine is unacceptable in Europe, as it is anywhere in the world. In these extreme times, the international community must work in solidarity to uphold the UN Charter and the rules-based international order,” the joint statement read.

“As heads of missions to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, we urge Pakistan to join us in condemning Russia´s aggression against Ukraine and voice support for upholding the UN Charter & founding principles of international law,” Lis Rosenholm, the ambassador of Denmark in Pakistan, said while sharing the joint statement.

“As we are writing this, there is a war in Europe. We deplore the loss of life and humanitarian suffering as innocent lives are being targeted as a mass exodus of women and children is underway into the neighboring countries from Ukraine, an independent and sovereign state and a member of the United Nations. This is unacceptable in Europe, as anywhere else in the world,” the joint statement read.

It noted that Russia launched unprovoked action against Ukraine that posed no threat to it.

“This constitutes a clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations, and presents a serious risk to global peace and security.”

In these extreme circumstances, the international community must work in solidarity and support and uphold the rules-based international order.

The statement comes ahead of the vote in the UN General Assembly on a draft resolution condemning Russia’s action as well as seeking an end to its aggression.

Pakistan, sources said, is likely to abstain from the UN General Assembly session in order to avoid taking sides in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

But the joint statement by the EU and other countries suggests that pressure is building on Pakistan to adopt a clear stance against Russia.

There has been no immediate reaction from the Foreign Office to the joint statement but Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari responded on Twitter, calling the joint statement “ironic.”

She said Pakistan did not support military force, but the EU could not adhere to the UN Charter “selectively” as has been done “for decades”. She called for the EU to condemn alleged violations by India and Israel.

Sources say Islamabad is unlikely to change its stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict given the sensitivities involved.

Prime Minister Imran Khan was in Moscow the day Russia launched a military operation against Ukraine after months of diplomatic efforts failed to resolve the crisis.

Despite criticism and pressure from the West, particularly the US, to call off the visit, Prime Minister Imran went ahead with his scheduled meeting with President Vladimir Putin that lasted over three hours.

On his return, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi insisted that Pakistan did the right thing by not calling off the visit.

In a televised address to the nation on Monday, Prime Minister Imran linked his recent trips to China and Russia with Pakistan’s efforts to pursue independent foreign policy.

But critics have warned that given Pakistan’s dependence on the West and the western financial institutions, the country may face a negative fallout of tilting too much towards Russia and China.

In a measured response, Pakistan expressed regrets over the conflict between Russia and Ukraine but stopped short of condemning Moscow. Islamabad has called for dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the crisis without taking sides.

This is the same stance taken by India, which is also walking a tightrope in terms of balancing its ties with the West and Russia. India, which is a non-permanent member of the UNSC, was among the three countries that abstained from voting on the US-sponsored resolution against Russia. The resolution could not be passed since Russia vetoed it while China and UAE were the other two countries that abstained from voting.

The same resolution is now being put before the UN General Assembly session. The UNGA resolutions are not binding but UN officials say at least that would reflect the collective will of the international community against Russia.

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