The Energy Deal That Probably Toppled Imran Khan

Former (ousted) Premier Imran Khan’s trip to Russia in March, and his 3-hour long meet with President Putin majorly bordered a game-changing economic negotiations for cash-strapped, energy-hit Pakistan. According to an analyst, “Khan administration’s National Security Policy, the first ever in Pakistan’s history, emphasized geoeconomics, neutrality, and staying away from geopolitical problems, which being pragmatic was attractive.”

“Khan’s negotiations with Russia to purchase fuel (LNG) and food (wheat) at a 30% discount aren’t pro-Russia or anti-US, but pro-Pakistan, since it’s his responsibility to improve his people’s living standards and any self-respecting patriotic leader (specially of a developing country) would do the same,” the analyst said.

“This deal probably accelerated Khan’s ouster,” he added.

Khan’s energy minister Hammad Azhar wrotea note to his counterpart in Russia (in March) which essentially points toward a long-term energy and food supply deal in the making with Russia, and requested to fast-track supply/delivery of LNG:

The letter also said that ‘…substantial progress (has been) made with respect to our flagship project i.e. Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline Project…; (That) Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) is in force between the two friendly countries since 2017 on cooperation in the sphere of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).”

“We are eager to enhance the relationship by fast-tracking the negotiations…so that a long-term agreement for supply of LNG on G2G basis is agreed at the earliest. As a start we propose supply by Russia of…”, the note said.

That this deal, which was on the front-burner then, “would be consummated in Russian Rubles instead of US Dollar. It was a big no, no,” an energy analyst says.

Some observers point toward the confluence of internal and external forces, including Khan’s “divisive and polarizing” stances as compelling reasons for his ouster.

The young one’s (majority of the population) and a huge community of status quo change-seekers haven’t likened Khan’s toppling though. They’re tik-tokking for early elections -“hoping that Khan would be the proverbial comeback kid and make things better,” according to an independent observer.

Pakistan Zindabad! Irshad Salim, Karachi