The Moscow Visit

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Prime Minister Imran Khan is on a two-day official visit to Russia at the invitation of President Vladimir Putin. During his visit, the Prime Minister will hold talks with his Russian counterpart, in which the two leaders will review the entire arrangement of bilateral relations, including energy cooperation, regional and international issues, including Islamophobia, and the situation in Afghanistan. The last visit from the Pakistani Prime Minister to Russia was held in March 1999. Since then, to now, there have been several officials but the one by Imran Khan is going to be the first bilateral trip by a Prime Minister of Pakistan to Moscow in 23 years. During the current crisis over Ukraine, this visit will be closely watched by the outside world particularly the US and its allies. On the other hand, India will certainly be following the PM visit too since New Delhi has a long-term strategic partnership with Moscow. But in recent years as India shuffled closer to the US, Russia has also made moves to improve ties with Pakistan. Pakistan and Russia share strong ties on multiple grounds.  On the bilateral economic front, Russia and Pakistan are keen to expand their economic ties. Both states are close to signing a deal on the laying of a gas pipeline from Karachi to Kasur. This project was first considered in 2015 but due to US sanctions over Russian companies, the progress was slow. But now the two sides have overcome those glitches and an agreement is believed to be ready for signing. Therefore, the PM’s visit is part of the ongoing efforts by the two sides to bury their bitter past and enter into a new era of cooperation. The Pakistan Steam Gas Pipeline is considered the flagship project between Pakistan and Russia.  Last but not least the most important ground of cooperation between two countries is the Afghanistan issue. During the ‘Afghan Jihad’ both countries were in the opposite camps and now after the withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan, both share the same view of the stabilization and peace in the war-torn country. If the Russian counterpart will follow a visit this move can be assumed as a step to further deepening the multifaceted Pakistan-Russia bilateral ties and enhancement of cooperation in diverse fields.

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