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Imran Khan’s Moscow visit flops as President Putin rejects request for $1 billion credit to Pakistan

Vladimir Putin with Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan.

Russian President Vladmir Putin rejected Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s request for a $1 billion credit advance to Pakistan for the proposed Gas Pipeline project at the meeting between the two leaders in Moscow, according to reliable sources.

Putin “politely declined” the request and Imran Khan’s “excitement” over the much-hyped meeting turned out to be short-lived, sources confirmed.  

Despite the sane advice by well-wishers that “it was not the right time,” to visit Russia, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan reached Moscow on Wednesday night, on a day when Putin announced the military operation in Ukraine.

“What a time I have come. So much excitement," Khan told Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov at the airport. In response, Morgulov was heard saying, "Absolutely, this is the right time to come."

According to Pakistani watchers, Khan’s main purpose for Moscow visit was to strike major deals on Russian investment to build a USD 2 billion worth gas pipeline, as Pakistan is desperate for a secure and cheap supply of natural gas. The visit was aimed to lay the foundation for Russia building a pipeline to transport natural gas from Karachi to Lahore.

The 1,100 km -long pipeline, also known as the North-South gas pipeline, was initially agreed to in 2015 and was to be financed by both Moscow and Islamabad, using a Russian company to construct it. But  the project has remained dormant due to US sanctions on Russian companies.

“The 1,100 km-long pipeline from Karachi to Kasur is to be laid with the cooperation of Russia. Imran Khan wanted to sign a commercial agreement with Russia during his visit but it seems that the Russian gas pipeline may face the same fate as happened in the case of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. Pakistan does not have money. It will have to borrow from Russia,” Pakistan’s energy minister, Hammad Azhar, told Third Pole.

But Putin has declined credit advance to Imran khan and most importantly, the US and other western countries have imposed new sanctions that are going to make the project extremely difficult for the project.

“It was bad timing for Imran Khan to visit Moscow. Do you think that Putin has the time to listen to Khan on Islamophobia or Kashmir when he is engaged in a war” says Shahid Hussain, a Pakistani columnist.

“It is bad diplomacy. But Imran Khan has been carrying his anti-American rhetoric too far, even believing in it, as he wants to be in love with his own words,” writes Federico Giuliani in Inside Over, calling Khan’s visit “ill-timed” and “foolhardy”. 

“Khan has chosen to get cosy with President Vladimir Putin when his own house is on fire – politically because of a no-confidence motion being readied against his government, and economically, because of the dire stress it is in and badly requires a hefty loan, of all the places, from the International Monetary Fund (IMF),” says Giuliani adding, “One need not be surprised if Khan offers to mediate between Russia and the US. It is laughable but Khan has indulged in this messianic talk before.”

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