The recent allegations made by The Intercept warrant careful scrutiny and a strong response. It suggested that the US and Pakistan entered into a secret arms deal with the objective of supplying weapons to Ukraine. Allegedly, it was only after this that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout was secured. While it is vital to investigate any such claims, it is equally essential to acknowledge Pakistan’s longstanding policy of strict neutrality in international conflicts.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office has vehemently rejected these allegations, emphasising that the IMF bailout negotiations were focused on implementing critical economic reforms. The attempt to portray these negotiations as part of an arms deal is, in their words, “baseless and fabricated.” Pakistan’s defence exports consistently adhere to stringent end-user requirements, further highlighting the nation’s commitment to neutrality.
The Intercept’s report has cited internal documents from both Pakistani and American governments, as well as sources with knowledge of the arrangement. However, these claims must be critically assessed, as they run counter to Pakistan’s declared stance and established foreign policy principles.
It is worth noting that this is not the first time such allegations have surfaced. In the past, reports have suggested Pakistan’s involvement in supplying arms to Ukraine through third parties. On every occasion, both Pakistan and Ukraine have categorically denied such agreements. Ukraine’s foreign minister reaffirmed this during his visit to Pakistan, emphasising that no arms deal existed between the two nations. Former Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also echoed this sentiment, asserting that Pakistan had not signed any military supply agreements with Ukraine since the conflict began.
Furthermore, the allegations overlook the numerous challenges Pakistan faced in securing the IMF bailout. The country’s foreign reserves were rapidly depleting, and its economy was in a precarious state. To obtain the bailout, Pakistan had to implement stringent fiscal measures, navigate through stalled negotiations, and demonstrate its commitment to economic reform. It is a disservice to reduce these multifaceted efforts to a simplistic arms deal.
Maintaining neutrality in international conflicts is not only a matter of policy but also a reflection of Pakistan’s commitment to peace and stability. Beyond that, it threatens to stain the growing relationship we have fostered with both Ukraine and Russia through this carefully crafted neutrality policy. We have shown restraint and diplomacy in the face of immense international pressure, and must continue to do so in the future.