On March 1, the heads of 22 foreign missions to Islamabad, including those of EU member nations, issued a joint letter requesting Pakistan to back a UN General Assembly resolution denouncing Russia’s special operation in Ukraine.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan slammed Western envoys visiting his country’s capital Islamabad who called on Pakistan to denounce Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine last week, asking if they thought Pakistan was their “slave,” Reuters reported upon his response on Sunday.
“What do you think of us? Are we your slaves … that whatever you say, we will do?” Khan remarked while speaking at a political event.
As the UNGA was voting to adopt a resolution condemning the Russian special operation to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine, Pakistan abstained from voting, and so did its political rival in the region, India.
“I want to ask the European Union ambassadors: Did you write such a letter to India?” Khan said, per the translation.
Khan also reportedly said that Europe has failed to condemn India over Kashmir, a mountainous region where Pakistan and India have fought two wars.
The prime minister added that Pakistan had suffered as a result of its assistance to the NATO alliance in Afghanistan, and that instead of thanks, it had received condemnation.
Khan and his administration were criticized after going ahead with a visit to Moscow in late February shortly before the special operation in Ukraine was declared, and meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin just hours after the operation’s launch.
On Sunday, however, Khan reportedly said that Pakistan is “friends with Russia, and we are also friends with America; we are friends with China and with Europe; we are not in any camp.” He went on to say that Pakistan would remain “neutral” and collaborate with those working to end the Ukraine conflict.
On Friday, a spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign ministry reportedly stated at the press briefing that it was “not usual diplomatic practice” for envoys to make public requests like their letter, “and we have made that clear.”
“We took note of that and in a subsequent meeting with a group of ambassadors, we expressed our concern about it, because as I said that is not the way diplomacy should be practiced, and I think they have realised it,” he added.
Some European envoys who shared the joint statement on Twitter reportedly erased the tweets some time after.