Russia has offered Pakistan wheat in addition to gas: Asif

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Imran trying to make COAS appointment controversial

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Saturday said that besides gas, Russia had also offered to provide wheat to Pakistan in the wake of catastrophic floods and keeping in view the possibility of food shortages that may occur in the aftermath of the deluge.

“Russia has said that it can provide us wheat because in the coming days as we may have shortages […],” he revealed at a press conference in Islamabad.

The minister’s statements come a day after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his delegation returned from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Uzbekistan.

“They have said that they can give us gas. Russia said that they have gas pipelines in Central Asian countries and the pipelines could be extended to Pakistan via Afghanistan. These talks have taken place,” he elaborated.

The minister said that President Putin also appreciated Pakistan’s position on the Russia-Ukraine war in the United Nations and internationally.

Talking about the meeting with the Chinese president, he said that Xi expressed his wish to resume the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project with the “same efficiency and passion”.

“To Pakistan, he said that we are all-weather friends and offered to help the country in every situation,” he added.

In response to a question, Asif said that the policy regarding the army chief’s appointment — which is due in November this year — was clear in the Constitution. “Nawaz Sharif has fulfilled this political responsibility four times and Shehbaz will do the same in November.”

He alleged that the matter has come into the limelight in a way that had never happened before in the country’s history and blamed PTI chief Imran Khan for it.

“He just wants to make the army chief’s appointment controversial,” he said, adding that no one had any doubt about the loyalty of the head of the army to the Constitution and the institutions. “Politics is separate but institutions should not be made controversial.”

Asif also said that Imran’s statements in recent days were against the country’s national security, stressing that action should be taken against them. “He [Imran] won’t hesitate in sabotaging Pakistan for his personal benefit.”

He then went on to say that the country was going through a difficult time and such a situation called for politics to be “kept aside”.

“For the sake of Pakistan, ego or politics should never come in the way. Today, there is pressure on the economy […] In such a situation, if there needs to be a time out from politics, then there can be talks for that.”

However, he contended, “Imran never talks about the floods […] He just wants his government back”.

The minister added that the destruction caused by floods in south Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was massive, yet “we can’t see [any] commitment from the PTI anywhere”.

Khawaja Asif warned Imran Khan to stop the pursuit of making the appointment of the new army chief controversial as it emboldens India adding that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif shall instate him in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.

Shelving Imran Khan’s demand of postponing the appointment of the army chief till August, the defence minister said he will not let Imran Khan put the country at stake and appease India. “The appointment will be made in November as per schedule,” he outlined during the presser.

He also remarked that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief is rewarding India by promoting political uncertainty in the country.

He said PM Shehbaz met with the heads of 10 countries during the two-day visit to Samarkand who promised to extend support to the flood-stricken people of Pakistan.

 

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