Prime Minister Imran Khan’s RT Interview: Global Trends, The Global South, Ties With Russia

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s RT Interview: Global Trends, The Global South, Ties With Russia

By Andrew Korybko

Those who are interested in learning more about the Pakistani leader’s views, whether due to their curiosity about him personally or simply the timing of his visit to Russia, would do well to watch his half-hour-long interview with RT if they find the time.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was interviewed by RT’s Oksana Boyko for her Worlds Apart program ahead of his maiden visit to Moscow. He covered several key topics that will be summarized in this piece: global trends, the interests of developing (“Global South”) countries, and relations with Russia. The Prime Minister’s trip has attracted disproportionate attention across the world since it comes just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) from Eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region as independent states. With all eyes on the Pakistani leader, curiosity about his views has only grown. What follows isn’t the order in which he shared his ideas in the interview but a sequential reporting of his views towards global trends, Global South interests, and ties with Russia.

Beginning with the first that’s likely of interest to the widest range of observers, Prime Minister Khan described climate change and the corruption of the Global South elite as the world’s two largest challenges in that order. Despite International Relations teetering on the edge of New Cold War that some have already declared began (though differing over when it started and what caused it), he’s still convinced that the world can be pulled back from the brink. To that end, he reaffirmed his confidence in mediating between the American and Chinese superpowers with the hope that pragmatic figures in the US establishment that aren’t influenced by extreme nationalism will realize that the world gains much more through American-Chinese cooperation than a conflict between them. Even if a New Cold War can’t be avoided, Prime Minister Khan insisted that Pakistan won’t participate in bloc politics like before.

It learned many lessons from the Old Cold War, he recalled, including the fact that foreign aid is actually a curse that results in complacency, a reliance on handouts, and eschewing self-reliance. The Pakistan leader warned that a New Cold War would be absolutely devastating for those Global South countries that are still struggling with abject poverty, immense debt, and manifold suffering that’s only been exacerbated by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The expected price spikes that could be triggered for agricultural products and energy in the event of a larger war breaking out in Europe make him wonder how everything got so far to this point. Prime Minister Khan believes that visionary leaders can still avert catastrophe so long as they put humanitarian interests before political ones but was very clear not to take any side in the current tensions.

As the leader of one of the world’s most populous Global South countries, the Pakistani Premier said that he hopes that his legacy will be one of returning the rule of law to his homeland and emulating China’s unprecedented success in lifting so many people out of poverty in such a short period of time. The first-mentioned part of his envisioned legacy is especially personal for him since he expressed frustration at the fact that his country’s former leaders are living lives of luxury in London funded by stolen national wealth. The problem, Prime Minister Khan explained, is that developed countries (“The Golden Billion”) benefit from the Global South elite’s corruption. He hopes that the former will one day promulgate very strict anti-corruption laws against the latter akin to those already in place for fighting terrorist financing in order to alleviate the consequences of corruption on food security and inequality.

Another challenge facing Global South countries is that their corrupt elite destroy national institutions in order to facilitate their theft of national wealth. These include anti-corruption structures, the judiciary, and tax departments, et al. Instead of seeking to lift their people out of poverty, including through cooperative regional development programs along the lines of what the EU succeeded in doing throughout the decades, many only want to remain in power. To that end, they sometimes consider waging a so-called “good war” for domestic political reasons if they believe that it’ll be expedient for their self-interested goals. This attitude very strongly contrasts with Prime Minister Khan’s spiritually driven outlook on life.

On the topic of his philosophical ideals, he expressed his support for Pakistani founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s blend of modernity and tradition in response to a question about this from Mrs. Boyko. It’s relevant to his stance towards Global South challenges because he shared some crucial insight related to the lingering socio-economic and political effects of colonialism on countries such as his own. In particular, Prime Minister Khan condemned the superimposition of foreign cultures onto other nations during that time and lamented how the legacy of a Westernized elite out of touch with the masses can contribute to serious problems at home such as corruption and unrest. A perfect example of this, he said, was the Iranian Revolution that was inspired by the people’s resistance to their Westernized elite that was cut off from the population and thus implementing very unpopular policies.

The best way forward, the Pakistani leader advised, is for countries to learn from all nations – particularly China with respect to its poverty alleviation programs in his country’s case – but remain rooted in their own culture. Going back to what was mentioned earlier in this piece, Pakistan has finally learned some belated lessons from its Westernized elite’s decision to side with the American bloc in the Old Cold War. Neutrality would have been best to pursue around a decade after independence upon receiving much-needed foreign assistance for resettling Pakistan’s millions of refugees and rebuilding its devastated economy. It’s with this non-aligned outlook in mind that Prime Minister Khan expressed regret at how the West sometimes pressures Global South countries to choose sides, which it very perniciously does through sanctions.

He explained that the sanctioning of Russian companies previously involved in what’s since been rebranded as the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline (PSGP) stymied the project for years despite his country being energy deficient. The Pakistani leader also said that sanctions prevented his country from simply building a pipeline from neighbouring Iran, which he claimed has the cheapest energy. He’s hopeful that such pressures won’t have any impact on the PSGP that’s been actively negotiated between these two countries over the past year. Prime Minister Khan shared how eager he is to visit Moscow and meet with President Putin, hoping that his historic trip will greatly enhance their rapidly developing partnership. Ideally, he envisions it turning Pakistan into a Eurasian bridge for bringing everyone together through shared geoeconomic goals.

Despite his trip taking place in the midst of the most serious global security crisis in decades, the Pakistani leader said that it’ll only concern bilateral issues and not any other ones. This is the most pragmatic stance for his country to take and fully aligns with Russia’s as shared by that country’s Ambassador to Pakistan Danila Ganich in a nearly hour-long interview that he gave to his host’s media on Sunday. Prime Minister Khan’s interview, meanwhile, was similarly informative though also different since he invested considerable time explaining the challenges of his fellow Global South countries. Those who are interested in learning more about the Pakistani leader’s views, whether due to their curiosity about him personally or simply the timing of his visit to Russia, would do well to watch his half-hour-long interview with RT if they find the time.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Voice of East.

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