Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Friday that a "powerful" country had been "angered" by his visit to Russia in February and had questioned his decision to go ahead with the two-day tour amid Russia-Ukraine tensions.
He did not name the country in his speech at the Islamabad Security Dialogue. The premier noted that the unnamed country's ally, India, was importing oil from Russia at a time when the West was trying to impose sanctions in the aftermath of the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine.
"Today, I read the British foreign secretary's statement that they can't say anything to India as it has an independent foreign policy. So what are we then?" he asked, adding that the blame lay with Pakistan.
"No country is respected unless it stands on its own two feet."
During his speech, the premier also praised India for its independent foreign policy that was centred around its people. "They protect their independent foreign policy."
He began his address by highlighting the importance of the event. "In our minds, security was defined as military [might]," he said, adding that it was, in fact, "multi-dimensional".
He said that the biggest "insecurity" for a nation is when there is a small island of wealthy citizens surrounded by a sea of underprivileged. "A country which does not have inclusive prosperity will always remain insecure."
He regretted the fact that many were unable to understand the concept of Riyasat-i-Madina. "They think that I talk about Riyasat-i-Madina to garner votes and use Islam for political purposes."
Commenting on the state of Madina, he called it a "unique" model where the people were uplifted to become a great civilisation. "This is a part of history, not mythology," he said, adding that this model was the very definition of national security.
"They proved that when a nation takes care of its weakest people, that is real security [...] security follows when every citizen owns their country," he said, adding that the military could only give you "limited security".
Turning towards Pakistan, the premier labelled "unequal development" in Pakistan as the biggest reason for the country's insecurity. "A small elite laid capture to our resources and did not allow its competition to succeed."
He went on to say that the same elite also introduced an English medium education system which meant that good jobs would only go to those who spoke the language. PM Imran further said that this also had an impact on the health and justice system, where only the affluent were being catered to.
The prime minister also held the absence of rule of law as the reason behind the country's insecurity, stating that no country could truly progress or reach its potential without it. He noted how the same was enforced in the state of Madina.
"I want to be a part of a state that gives me justice, where my rights, life and property are protected," he said.
Giving an example from history, he said that conquerors from the North would travel straight to Delhi facing little to no resistance. "They faced no resistance because the people did not have a stake in the system. It was a feudal system," he said that the person at the top ruled over the people.
Finally touching upon an independent foreign policy, he said that the policy at the time of independence "made sense". "We were bankrupt, we did not have resources and had refugee problems."
But our dependency on foreign aid caused the most damage to the country, he said. "We did not bother to discover the potential that God had given us. A person reaches his true potential when he faces resistance," he said, giving the example of a muscle atrophying when it is not in use.
"When a nation starts thinking we can't achieve anything without aid, it can't succeed," he said, adding that an independent foreign policy was inextricably linked with a nation's progress.
'Sacrificed own country for another's interest'
Talking about the Afghan 'jihad', the prime minister said that Pakistan had never evaluated what it had lost and what it had gained through its participation.
"We never evaluated whether we got involved in order to help the Afghan people or whether it was for obtaining foreign aid," he said, adding that Pakistan's losses far outweighed the foreign aid that was given.
He went on to say that after 9/11, Pakistan changed its stance on resistance against foreign occupation terming it as "terrorism".
"We violated our own principles," he said, noting the economic devastation and labelling of Pakistan that followed soon after.
"We sacrificed our own country for the benefit of another [...]. That is why I believe that a country without an independent foreign policy does not have any respect in the world and cannot protect the interests of its people."
He went on to say that the objective of the PTI government was to draft an independent foreign policy and to stop the country from becoming part of a particular camp. "We tried to keep our foreign policy independent, one that is only affected by what is good for Pakistan's 220 million people," he said, adding that the country had never received the amount of international respect given during the last three-and-a-half years.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly criticised the prime minister's speech, stating that he was "shocked at the way Imran Khan had endangered the global interests of the country".
"His recurring praise for [Narendra] Modi's foreign policy is an insult to the sacrifices of valiant Kashmiris braving Hindutva. Among other things, the damage done to our foreign policy is incalculable," he said.