UK calls off top Pakistan official’s visit over ‘stand on Russia’ Pakistan’s national security advisor Moeed Yusuf (Photo by SHAUN TANDON/AFP via Getty Images)
THE UK government has unilaterally called off a scheduled visit of Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf to London apparently because of Islamabad’s policy towards Russia’s military offensive against Ukraine, according to a media report.
The visit, which was scheduled for next week, was called off on Friday (4) without mentioning any reason, the News International newspaper reported on Saturday (5).
The UK’s move comes days after heads of various foreign missions in Pakistan urged Islamabad to condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in the emergency special session of the UN General Assembly, which was convened to vote on a resolution against Moscow.
In a joint statement, the heads of mission of leading EU nations like Germany, France, Italy and others, including Japan, the UK, Canada and Australia, pointed out that Russia launched an “unprovoked attack and invaded a peaceful neighbouring country”.
According to the report, the cancellation of the NSA’s visit was linked to Pakistan’s reaction to the joint statement by the envoys.
Pakistan on Friday termed the statement as undiplomatic and unacceptable.
Asim Iftikhar, the spokesman for the Pakistan Foreign Office, said, “we expressed concern over the statement because as I said that is not the way diplomacy should be practised, and I think they have realised.”
The 193-member UN General Assembly convened the rare emergency special session on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine on Monday (28) after the 15-nation Security Council voted on a resolution to refer the crisis to the most representative body of the world organisation.
Pakistan, which is trying not to take sides on the Ukraine crisis, stayed away from debate on the issue.
Indications are that Pakistan wants to avoid getting involved in the dispute which places it in an uncomfortable position. Pakistan is a traditional US ally, which once provided Washington with a corridor to reach out to China.
Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan’s maiden visit to Russia amidst Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine too raised eyebrows.
Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi last week justified Khan’s visit to Russia, saying it was a bilateral visit planned well ahead of the start of the conflict.