Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Moscow, which coincided with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, seems to have caused a diplomatic repercussion for the country – the cancellation of National Security Advisor Yusuf Moeed’s official trip to the UK.

Moeed was supposed to land in London Saturday to meet his British counterpart and also deliver a lecture at the London School of Economics (LSE), he could do neither of the two events in person. 

According to news reports from Pakistan, the UK government cancelled the proposed visit due to the country’s stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Pakistan PM’s two-day visit to Russia, along with his first-ever summit meeting with President Vladimir Putin, had run concurrently with the invasion on 24 February. During the meeting, Khan committed to a “long-term and multidimensional” relationship with Russia. 

However, a press statement by the Pakistani government after the meeting had expressed regret over the Ukraine conflict.

LSE address over Zoom

Moeed later addressed the LSE event over Zoom, saying he had decided not to come “due to the rapidly changing conditions”.

Pakistani sources confirmed that the UK administration had told Moeed last week that they won’t be able to host him due to the ongoing standoff between Ukraine and Russia.

While the event organised by LSE’s Pakistan Development Society — titled LSE Future of Pakistan Conference — was supposed to be held in-person Saturday and was a ticketed affair, Moeed conveyed to the organisers Friday that he will deliver his talk online.

Later, the LSE society informed through its Instagram handle that the NSA had not boarded the flight to London and intended to conduct the event over Zoom.

They said the reason for the change was the “current circumstances affecting the international community”.

Meanwhile, another speaker from Pakistan, Supreme Court judge Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah had arrived in London three days ago.

According to Pakistan journalists and intellectuals, the cancellation of the trip and switching the in-person event to a virtual one is part of the “dialing down” of the relationship with Pakistan.

During the virtual talk, the NSA defended Pakistan’s decision to back Russia and expressed the belief that his country will not be isolated.

According to some reports, the UK had cancelled the NSA’s visit without assigning any reason.

The UK’s reaction also hinted that the cancellation might be linked to Pakistan’s response to a joint press release by a group of countries over the Russian invasion. 

The Islamabad-based heads of missions of the European Union countries, along with Japan, Canada, the UK and Australia had urged Pakistan to join the EU in condemning Russia’s action, only for it to term the statement ‘undiplomatic and unacceptable’.

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