Rejuvenated Pakistan-Russia Ties

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Amid escalated Ukraine crisis, Prime Minister Imran Khan is on a historic visit to strengthen ties between Moscow and Islamabad. It is after 23 years that the Premier of Pakistan visited one of the most important global powers. Prime Minister to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the entire array of bilateral relations, including energy cooperation and major regional and international issues, including Islamophobia and the situation in Afghanistan.

Political connotations of this visit were misinterpreted by the western media and also by the adversaries of Pakistan. The summit comes as much of the West aligns against Putin amid increasing fears of a war that could cause massive casualties, energy shortages on the European continent, and chaos around the world. Nevertheless, Pakistan has already cleared its stance concerning the simmering Ukraine crisis as Prime Minister Khan in an interview with Russia’s state-owned television network RT called for a resolution of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine through peaceful means; “I am hoping that this Ukrainian crisis is resolved peacefully”. The pundits and experts closely assess the visit and it is opined as ill-timed and it could further provoke constraints between Islamabad and the west, in particular the dynamics of Pak-US ties.  For reasons, the Prime Minister visited China a few weeks ago, and following the visit may further complicate the situation. Pakistan on the other hand denounced the bloc politics trend and pledges to establish balanced ties with all the major actors of the world.  Furthermore, PM Imran Khan played down the timing of the visit, and any effect it would have on Pakistan’s relations with the West. “This visit was planned well before the emergence of the current phase of the Ukrainian crisis, I received the invitation from President Putin much earlier,” he told Newsweek Pakistan.

Notwithstanding the propagations delusions, the visit must be appraised in its real spirit. Pakistan has shifted its foreign policy from geo-security preferences to geo-economics, thus it tends to establish sustainable economic ties with all the regional and global actors. At the core, the success of “Pakistan economic vision to Central Asia” inadvertently relies on its dynamics of ties with Russia. The visit reinforces economic cooperation between the two countries. As matter of fact, Moscow has also shown interest in promoting economic ties with the emerging economy, Pakistan. The North-South gas pipeline project will help Pakistan in meeting the domestic as well as industrial energy needs. Russia is already pursuing various projects in Baluchistan which implies that they have all those important equipment with optimal knowledge to extract natural resources. Moreover, the cooperation in the steel sector industries will also boost the industrial output of Pakistan. Adding further, from a geopolitical lens, Pakistan is emerging as an important regional as well as an international player as Islamabad is developing ties with major powers on equality. Russia has been a major power in the past and still, they have a say in the international political and economic order. So, countries like China and Russia are readily boosting economic cooperation with Pakistan that will not only help in economic development but will also increase the international importance of Pakistan. Islamabad has always played a role of a facilitator to promote peace globally which is evident from the unconditional efforts of Pakistan to pursue Doha Talks.

 

The Prime Minister’s visit offers an opportunity to converge economic interests in the region. Likewise, the deliberations would also pave the path for the plausible prospects for addressing the looming crisis in Afghanistan. For Pakistan, the visit holds immense significance as it undermines the Indian regional equation of power prowess. In the broader spectrum, the timing of visit signifies that the West, in particular, the US must revisit its policy manual towards Pakistan. Realistically, it will induce a pressure check to all the actors that in one way or other underestimate Islamabad’s power stature in the realm of the geopolitical sphere. At the core, it will provide a much-needed breakthrough to address the core domestic economic constraints.  The summit has provided Russia a window to revitalize its regional geopolitical and geostrategic positioning. Cordial ties with Islamabad to create a win-win situation and it will also consolidate its posture for great powers competition.  Such a development is likely to give Pakistan a sense of pursuing an independent foreign policy that would better serve its national interests.

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