Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said Pakistan would buy cheaper oil and food from Russia if it offered and if it did not invoke sanctions against Islamabad.
In an interview with CNN’s Becky Anderson, Ismail, however, clarified that Moscow had not made such an offer so far.
Ismail said the previous government did write a letter to Moscow seeking to buy cheaper oil, but it had not responded.
He said Islamabad has approached both Ukraine and Russia to buy cheaper wheat from Russia, adding that “whichever country is willing to sell us wheat, we would be happy to buy it.”
Refuting former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s claim that Russia had offered Pakistan a 30 per cent discount on oil and wheat imports, the minister said, “I don’t know where Khan gets his numbers from. But I know that he just makes up stuff as he goes along.”
“Russia has also not offered us any oil and it is now under sanctions, so it’s very difficult for me to imagine buying Russian oil,” he said.
In response, former rights minister Shireen Mazari said there are no sanctions on purchasing oil from Russia, and Miftah Ismail is a “liar” and “ignorant” for saying so.
The PTI leader said that it’s indeed the “fear of the US” stopping Miftah from buying Russian oil.
The man is a liar! He says after 45 days we will buy oil from Russia if there are no sanctions. Ignorant man! There are NO sanctions on purchasing oil from Russia. Ask India! So what's actually stopping him from buying other than fear of US? pic.twitter.com/wqphQF8dOP
— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) May 31, 2022
On Monday, the European Union (EU) agreed to ban 90 per cent of Russian crude oil imports bought in by sea by the end-2022, which rules out about two-thirds of the total, except for Hungary and two other landlocked Central European states.
According to EU’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, it will reduce the EU’s oil imports from Russia to 10 or 11% of its current level. But this is not a huge percentage.
Moreover, the delays in finalizing the harshest sanction on Russia reflect the EU’s hesitancy, where energy prices have spiked, and inflation is running at close to a double-digit clip.
The US, Canada, UK, and Australia have already banned imports. The US and UK are also banning Russian oil by the end of 2022.
But it should be noted only about 8% of US oil and refined product imports come from Russia, while Russia makes up just about 6% of the UK’s oil imports.
By contrast, the EU is much more reliant on Russian energy, so the bloc is less keen to impose sanctions on Russia.
In March, the EU committed to reducing gas imports by two-thirds within a year but has not been able to agree on any further action because it relies on Russia for about 40% of its gas needs.
Moreover, India has approximately imported 3.36 million metric tonnes of Russian Crude in May, nearly nine times higher than the 2021 monthly average of 382,500 metric tonnes.
New Delhi – which usually buys only about 2% to 3% from Russia of its total 80 per cent oil import – took advantage of the heavy discounts and steadily increased its intake from Moscow, with oil prices shooting up this year.
Thus, while the West is still buying Russian oil and gas to tackle inflation, it is at the same time pressuring countries like Pakistan to refrain from doing so, which exposes the dual Western standards.