Pakistan-Relations with Russia
Pakistanís relations with the Russian Federation, which emerged as the successor state to the USSR after its dissolution in December 1991, are quite naturally inseparable from the legacy of more than four decades of Pak-Soviet relations. Historically these relations were unsatisfactory. USSR perceived Pakistan in the military aspects sponsored by the US and Pakistanís friendship with China in the context of the Cold War, while Pakistan felt threatened due to USSR close relations with India.
The Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan once again dealt a serious blow to Pak-Soviet relations. Pakistan felt a direct threat to its security from the presence of Soviet forces in Afghanistan while USSR demanded accommodation in Pakistanís policy on Afghanistan and predicated the entire bilateral relationship on its response. The collapes of Soviet Union provided an opportunity for a new beginning in Pak-Russia relations, which was taken up by both sides. High-level bilateral contacts took place between Pakistan and the Russian Federation immediately thereafter. In November 1991. Pakistanís minister of state for economics affairs visited Moscow followed by his well-Known tour of the Central Asian States. It was the first ministerial visit from Pakistan to the Russian Federation after years of neglect by past government and contributed significantly to the opening a new chapter of relations with Russia.
Several high-level exchanges of trips have taken place between the two sides since then, which include the visits of the vice-president (December 1991), foreign minister (July 1993) and first deputy foreign minister (May 1994) to Pakistan and those of Pakistanís then secretary-general of foreign affairs (September 1992) and the foreign minister (July 1994). A broad range of bilateral issues was discussed during these visits, which, besides other areas of co-operation, also included collaboration in the fields of defense outer space technology and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The exchange of these visits in indicated the Russian desire to upgrade relations with Pakistan and was a radical departure from the previous Soviet policy.
There are several other indication to show that Pakistanís desire for a normal relation-ship with Russia, which is also reciprocated by Russian Federation. Pakistan had been appreciative of Russian balanced approach towards South Asia and attached independence significance ďto its relations with Pakistan.Ē While Russian tried to maintain its traditionally close cooperation with India, it may not have a special relationship with that country at the expense to its ties with Pakistan. The Indians were not pleased with the development but the fact was that India has lost it strategic value. After the end of the cold war and the normalization of china-Russia relations, India no longer enjoyed the importance.
The relation between Pakistan and Russia began to develop, when Russia made concern on Kashmir issue, non-proliferation or the sale of defense equipment by Russia to Pakistan. Russia had moved away from its unconditional support to India on these issues. Russiaís expression of deep concern in October 1993 over the aggravation of the human rights situation in connection with the Hazartbal siege and its call upon all sides to work for a positive solution through peaceful means. This new development received the considerable concern in India. The Indians were also disappointed when the Russian leader made no statement on the Kashmir issue during Indian Prime Minister visit to Moscow in July 1994.
The Russian Federation did not oppose Pakistanís resolution in the UN General Assembly on the nuclear-free zone in South Asia for the first time in 17 years in 1991. But it voted in favour of the proposal of Pakistan for first time in history Pakistan and Russia also pleaded for promotion of peace and stability in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Russia demanded for the containment of turmoil to Central Asian States. Pakistan also sought tranquility and peace and to develop mutually beneficial co-operation with Afghanistan and Central Asian States.
Pakistan and Russia co-operated in the UN-sponsored talks on Tajikistan. Russia had been using its influence over the Tajik government while Pakistan doing the same. These rounds of talks held in Tehran and Islamabad in 1994. The Russian president extended the invitation to Pakistanís Premier to visit Russia, which showed a balanced approach for the established of good relation with Pakistan.
At minister level many trips visited both the countries for normalization of relations between Russia and Pakistan. New era of co-operation of scholars had played an important role in normalization of relations between the both countries. Leader of the Russian Parliament visited Pakistan in September 1998 and disclosed that Russia was ready to supply military hardware to Pakistan. He also said the Russian technology could find its way into many fields of Pakistan markets.
In April 1999 the Pakistan Prime Minister visited Moscow, which was the first visit to Russia by a Pakistani Head of Government after twenty five years and the first ever between Pakistan and the Russian Federation. During the visit many important bilateral issues, as well as a whole range of regional and global issues of common concern, came under discussion. Some important documents were signed. Inter-Governmental Agreement on Trade and Economic Co-operation and an agreement on co-operation between the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the two countries were concluded. It was also agreed to establish a Joint Inter-Government Ministerial Commission on Economic. Trade, Scientific and Technological Co-operation.
Recently Pakistan purchased transport helicopters from Russia. Another big deal involving ďKamazĒ trucks in the being negotiated while a joint venture for producing small cars is in the offing. Although, trade between Pakistan and Russia has declined in recent years owing to the economic crises in both the countries, serious efforts are being made to revive the bilateral trade as well.
Pakistan attaches great importance to its relations with Russia, which it feels has an important role to play in peace and stability in Asia and particularly in South Asia. It is desirous of expanding mutually beneficial cooperation with Russia in all spheres, which can contribute to the peace and stability of region. Russia shares this desire and also recognize the importance of Pakistan in peace and stability of south Asia and South Central Asia. Based on their keenness for close and cooperative relations, the two countries are moving towards a more fruitful relationship. Pakistan welcomes the fact that Russia is in the process of evolving a more even handed approach towards the major countries in South Asia and believes that Russia could act as a mediator for the establishment of a congenial atmosphere in South Asia conducive to the economic development of the region.
Realizing the importance of Pakistan in the region. Russia intended to improve relations with Pakistan by offering help to ailing economic condition of Pakistan. It also offered to Pakistan to sell its armaments. The danger of National Missile Defense programme of United States also made Russia closer to Pakistan along with China.
On the invitation of Russian Government the President of Pakistan visited Russia on an official visit in February 2003 and concluded many pacts of friendship and mutual understanding. Thus Pakistan began to enjoy a pivotal position in the region.
Always do what you are afraid to do
Saqib Riaz(TIPO KHAN)