Shehbaz backtracks on stance on US, mulls visiting Beijing, Moscow

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The development comes at a time when efforts are underway to reset the troubled relationship between Pakistan and the US…reports Asian Lite News

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will travel to Beijing in November while he has also accepted an invitation from Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Moscow in a telling move that contradicts claims that Islamabad may distance itself from US adversaries following the ouster of former premier Imran Khan.

The development comes at a time when efforts are underway to reset the troubled relationship between Pakistan and the US, The Express Tribune reported.

A senior adviser of the US Secretary of State recently visited Islamabad, while President Joe Biden’s administration approved $450 million sale of the F-16 equipment in a sign that Washington wants to maintain a working relationship with Islamabad.

In the middle of all this, Sharif’s meeting with Putin on Thursday and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday are significant and show that Pakistan is trying to maintain a delicate balance in its ties with big powers, The Express Tribune reported.

The transcript released by Putin’s office after meeting Sharif suggested Russia’s eagerness to deepen ties with Pakistan.

At the same time President Xi in his maiden meeting with the premier termed Sharif “a person of pragmatism and efficiency”.

The Prime Minister also heaped praise on Putin, calling Russia a “superpower” and Putin a “man of words”.

On his part, the Russian President began his meeting with Shehbaz Sharif by recalling his working relationship with his elder brother, Nawaz Sharif, when he was the Prime Minister, The Express Tribune reported.

Observers believe that Shehbaz’s flurry of meetings with Russian and Chinese presidents indicated that Pakistan’s policy, seeking diversification in the country’s foreign policy options, remains intact.

While Islamabad has a long-standing relationship with Beijing, the process of rapprochement with Russia began way before Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan became the prime minister.

It was a consensus decision by the country’s parliament and other stakeholders in 2011 to reach out to Russia after Islamabad’s relationship hit the lowest ebb because of a series of debacles.

Since then, successive governments, including Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, had pursued the policy of normalising ties with Russia.

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