Pak minister Hina Rabbani left embarrassed after Russian FM’s question

The bilateral meeting was held on the sidelines of the Samarkand Summit on April 13, 2023, for countries neighbouring Afghanistan to discuss the situation in the Taliban-ruled country.

NEW DELHI | Updated: 17 April, 2023 10:43 am IST

Pakistani MoS Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar was left embarrassed during a bilateral meeting with the Russian delegation in Samarkand, when asked about the absence of her team, revealing the impact of Pakistan’s struggling economy.

“Where’s the rest of your team?” asked Russian FM Sergey Lavrov to Rabbani, who sat across the long diplomatic table, with only one state official on her right, and empty chairs thereafter.

“The rest of my team..? We have a small team, and the rest will come. We are travelling with a small team and we have a small embassy,” said Khar.

Thereafter, she goes on to say, “We’re not a big power like Russia” to which Russian FM Sergey Lavrov replied saying such things don’t matter to ‘friends’.

“Don’t be too modest. We’re friends and friends do not care about the size,” said Lavrov.

The bilateral meeting was held on the sidelines of the Samarkand Summit on April 13, 2023, for countries neighbouring Afghanistan to discuss the situation in the Taliban-ruled country.

The foreign ministers and senior officials of China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan attended the meeting.

Notedly, the Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto was absent, leaving his junior minister to lead the talks with Russian FM Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the Summit.

The incident is indicative of how Pakistan’s struggling economy has impacted the upper echelons of society, as evidenced by the reduced delegation on official tours.

In February this year, the Pakistan government took austerity measures to help their dwindling state treasury.

As per reports, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had asked cabinet ministers and advisers to forgo their salaries and perks, and to not stay at five-star hotels during foreign trips.

“All cabinet members and advisors have voluntarily decided that they will not draw salaries or any other benefits from the state treasury and also pay their utility bills,” he said.

He also asked Cabinet members and government officials to stop using luxury cars and to fly economy class, in a bid to reduce expenditure by 15 percent.

The belt tightening came as Islamabad, which is facing a balance of payment crisis, has been scrambling to secure funds to rescue the economy.

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