Islamabad, Sep 19 (IANS) Pakistan has rejected a report claiming that it entered into a secret arms deal with Ukraine in order to secure the IMF bailout programme, and termed it as "baseless and fabricated".
A statement issued by the Pakistan Foreign office said the country stands by its policy of strict neutrality in the Russia-Ukraine dispute.
"The IMF Standby Arrangement for Pakistan was successfully negotiated between Pakistan and the IMF to implement difficult but essential economic reforms. Giving any other colour to these negotiations is disingenuous," Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said.
"Pakistan maintains a policy of strict neutrality in the dispute between Ukraine and Russia and in that context, does not provide any arms and ammunition to them. Pakistan's defence exports are always accompanied with strict and user requirements," she added.
The report by US-based online publication 'Intercept' claimed that Pakistan supplied weapons to Ukraine through the US in return to approval and dispersal of the $3bn IMF Standby Arrangement for a period of nine months.
Intercept claims were banked on its sources with knowledge of the arrangement and leaks secret documents signed by both Pakistan and the US.
"These arms sales were intended to supply the Ukrainian military, hence, forcing Pakistan to take a side in the Russia-Ukraine conflict," the Intercept report claimed.
Pakistan secured the standby agreement with the IMF during July 2023, which came as a much-needed bailout for the country and avoid economic meltdown.
Reports about arm sale to Ukraine had surfaced before July, 2023. However, Pakistan and Ukraine both had rejected them back then as well.
"I can confirm there are no intergovernmental arrangements between Pakistan and Ukraine in this area," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has stated during a joint-press conference with then Pakistani foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto in Islamabad, during his two day visit in July, 2023.
While the Intercept story is being rejected by official quarters; a debate has stated between the supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan and anti-PTI chief voices on the social media.
"Pro-Imran Khan" voices say that the Intercept report confirms why Khan was ousted from power through a US-led regime change conspiracy. They claim that Khan said "Absolutely Not" to the US when it tried to force Pakistan into supporting Ukraine against Russia.
"Intercept is a conspiracy peddler & variant arm of US… OBL, CIA, Johnathan bank, Raymond Davis albeit, US never left change to defame Pak Army. US sells arms to India/Pak, Russia sells arms to India/Pak, But Pak can’t sell arms to Ukraine? We can sell to anyone, regardless of IMF," stated one social media user.
On the other hand, Khan's supporters relate the Intercept story to the ouster of his government and its corresponding events in reference to arrests of PTI workers, alleged human rights violations and delay in elections, which they say, is being led by the military establishment.
"This has got to stop. There's only one way forward for Pakistan to realise its true potential and eventually thrive, it is an interference free and fair election guaranteed by the constitution where its 240 million people can choose their own destiny and a leader who they trust can pull them out of this rut of US' creation, fortunately, that means the return of Khan. And the US needs to respect that," said a PTI supporter on social media platform 'X'.
The latest claim by the Intercept has opened up a debate whether Pakistan had accommodated the US quietly, while taking a different stance publicly.
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