By: Chandrashekar Bhat
WHEN India refused to succumb to the Western pressure to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, the praise for New Delhi’s diplomatic tightrope walk came from unexpected quarters.
Pakistan’s then prime minister Imran Khan found merit in India’s “independent foreign policy” and even said his government was also adopting a similar one to benefit its people.
He called India a “nation with a great sense of honour”, despite his statements attracting the opposition’s ire.
Ousted from power last month, Khan has now praised New Delhi for reducing fuel prices with the help of “discounted oil” from Russia, saying this is what his government was working to achieve.
The Indian government on Saturday (21) cut excise duty on petrol by a record Rs 8 (8.2p) per litre and that on diesel by Rs 6 (6.2p) per litre to give relief to consumers battered by high fuel prices that have also pushed inflation to a record high.
It also decided to give a subsidy of Rs 200 (£2.06) per cylinder to the families below the poverty line 12 times in a year under the Ujjwala Yojana scheme.
Khan tagged a South Asia Index report in his tweet which said that “after buying discounted oil from Russia, the Indian government reduced petrol price by 9.5 rupees per litre. Diesel price has also been reduced by 7 rupees per litre.”
Taking to Twitter, the 69-year-old cricketer-turned-politician said: “Despite being part of the Quad, India sustained pressure from the US and bought discounted Russian oil to provide relief to the masses. This is what our government was working to achieve with the help of an independent foreign policy”.
India, the world’s third-biggest oil-consuming and importing nation, has in recent weeks snapped a few cargoes available from Russia at deep discounts as part of its plans to diversify its import basket.
In another tweet, Khan said: “Pakistan’s interest was supreme but unfortunately the local Mir Jafars & Mir Sadiqs bowed to external pressure, forcing a regime change and are now running around like a headless chicken with the economy in a tailspin.”
Khan often terms his political opponents as Mir Jafars & Mir Sadiqs, the historical figures who had betrayed their masters and helped the British rulers.
Last month, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice president Maryam Nawaz lashed out at Khan for lavishing praise on India, saying he should go to the neighbouring country if he likes it so much.
Khan was voted out of power on April 10 through a no-confidence motion, becoming the first Pakistan prime minister to be ousted unceremoniously by Parliament
The newly-formed government under Shehbaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is under pressure due to the economic situation as the US dollar is at a historic high against the Pakistani rupee.
The cash-starved country is in dire need of foreign assistance due to its depleting forex reserves and growing repayments and import financing requirements.