News Analysis |
Pakistan and Russia have agreed to explore new ways for bilateral cooperation to expand their relationship. Pakistan’s Foreign Office stated, “both sides agreed on the need to further capitalize on the positive trajectory of the overall bilateral relations by exploring avenues for mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation”, after the 12th meeting of Pakistan-Russia Consultative Group on Strategic Stability on March 2, 2018.
The Pakistani delegation was led by Special Secretary Ambassador Tasnim Aslam whereas the Russian delegation was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov. Foreign Office further added, “the two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on the regional and global developments, including with respect to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.” Since the inception of this group in 2003, both countries have conducted structural dialogues through this platform.
To kill the vicious phenomenon of extremism and terrorism from the region, an economic development is a prerequisite that will promote increased commerce with Pakistan’s neighbors, including Russia, which currently accounts for barely $500 million in trade.
Earlier, both countries had signed a defense cooperation agreement and a technical cooperation accord in 2015 for arms supplies as well as to cooperate in weapons technology. In February, 2018, Pakistan’s Defense Minister, Khawaja Asif visited Moscow and agreed to form a military commission to enhance their defense ties. However, Russia may take time to discuss the prospects of nuclear cooperation with Pakistan since it is inclined towards cooperation in the energy sector and is insisting upon Pakistan to implement the agreements that were reached in the inter-governmental commission.
Indo-US growing strategic partnership, Afghanistan’s situation and the changed international geopolitical environment are the contributory factors behind the growing Russia-Pakistan relations. Moreover, both sides expressed a certain degree of satisfaction over their close coordination at various international and regional forums, the FO reported.
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Another factor behind Russia’s inclination towards Pakistan is that it has security concerns over the growing presence of Islamic State (IS) in Afghanistan. The most recent development is that Russia has named an honorary representative, Mohammad Arsallah Khan to Khyber Pukhtunkhwa which borders Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, where IS is reported to have established its headquarters. The Islamic State is also present in northern Afghanistan’s border regions with Central Asia, causing further anxiety in Moscow.
Russia has also expressed apprehensions over the long-term presence of the US in Afghanistan, that’s why it is more interested in keeping an eye on the lingering situation in Afghanistan.
The counterterrorism maneuvering had stemmed from a defense cooperation agreement between the two countries which was signed in 2014, lifting a long-running Russian ban on arms sales to Pakistan.
Historically, Pakistan stood with the United States against Russia (Soviet Union) in 1980s to oust Soviet Union from Afghanistan. After 10 years, USSR failed to win the war and on February 15, 1989, left Afghanistan in a negotiated exit. Russia’s rapprochement towards Pakistan is a “poke in the eye” to the US which is still embroiled in the Afghan conflict which is now in its 17th year.
With the changed geopolitical environment of South Asia where the balance of power is tilting towards India, Pakistan has understood its need to enhance its relations with other countries in which Russia and China are on top of the list. Pakistan always remained willing to counter extremism and to cooperate with other countries including the US.
Last year, Russia and Pakistan conducted two-week-long joint military exercise titled as ‘Friendship 2017’ involving more than 200 Special Forces soldiers from both countries. The counterterrorism maneuvering had stemmed from a defense cooperation agreement between the two countries which was signed in 2014, lifting a long-running Russian ban on arms sales to Pakistan.
To kill the vicious phenomenon of extremism and terrorism from the region, an economic development is a prerequisite that will promote increased commerce with Pakistan’s neighbors, including Russia, which currently accounts for barely $500 million in trade. In a nut shell, both Russia and Pakistan have expressed their willingness to work together in different fields including trade, defense and counter terrorism.