It was pretty surprising for political observers when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russian President Vladimir Putin that it was not a good time for war with Ukraine. Much of the Western press, and even the Biden administration, interpreted it as another example of Putin’s isolation. Yet, India remains one of the buyers of energy from Russia. But now, there is a twist to the tale: Russia is reportedly in talks with Pakistan for oil imports, that too on deferred payment basis, something that would help the cash-strapped South Asian neighbour of India.
According to Pakistani newspaper Express Tribune, Islamabad is in talks with Russia regarding the possibility of importing oil on deferred payment.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had three meetings with Putin on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan’s Samarkand city, which concluded last week. Modi had made the remarks on Ukraine war at the same platform.
“One was formal and the rest were informal,” said the official, who was part of the prime minister’s delegation.
“What we have discussed during the recent interaction with the Russian side is the possibility of importing oil on deferred payment,” the official said. He further said that Moscow has shown inclination to consider the proposal, PTI reported quoting the newspaper.
If the proposal materialises, it will be a landmark development given that Pakistan imports oil from Gulf countries. In the past, Saudi Arabia and UAE supplied oil to Pakistan on deferred payment.
However, it is not clear if the government can pursue the option given the likely opposition from the United States.
A source in the foreign office disclosed that the US has never explicitly asked Pakistan not to import oil from Russia but “advised us that it is better if we don’t enter into such a venture with Russia”, the report said.
(With inputs from agencies)