Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to send a high-level delegation to Pakistan. The high-level Russian delegation would meet the President, the Prime Minister, and the Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa. The delegation will view the ongoing political situation and is expected to hold talks on security and economic cooperation. The delegation would also attend the annual Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) foreign ministers meeting.
The OIC meeting will be held on March 22-23 in Islamabad. Apart from the Russian delegation, Foreign ministers of 48 countries have confirmed their participation in the event.
According to local news, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will also be present in the OIC meeting. After the meeting, the delegates of the visiting countries would attend the 23 March parade. The Resolution day parade has assumed greater importance this year as all the foreign ministers coming for the OIC meeting would attend the parade. Whether the Russian delegation would attend the 23 March parade is still unclear.
PM’s visit to Russian
This visit by the Russian delegation was preceded by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Russia. Prime Minister Khan took off for his two-day visit to the Russian Federation on 23 February. The Pakistani Prime Minister was supported by a high-level delegation and discussed issues including energy and economic cooperation. The Prime Ministers’ landmark visit marked the first visit in 23 years by any Pakistani PM to the Federation.
According to a report by local news, PM Khan also pushed for the construction of the long-delayed gas pipeline project during his visit. The North-South project, estimated to cost over $2 billion, has been held up since 2015 due to disagreements over fees and US sanctions against Russian state conglomerate Rostec. Shortly after PM Khan landed in Moscow, Russia launched a full-scale invasion inside Ukraine.
Following the Russian invasion into Ukraine, the U.S, the European Union, and the United Kingdom agreed to put in place varying sanctions against Russia and cut several select banks from SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) – a system for global payments used by over 11,100 financial institutions across the world.
The West also moved a resolution in the UNGA emergency session to condemn the Russian attack on Ukraine. Pakistan, however abstained from voting for the resolution. Shortly after, the E.U publically released a joint letter that sought to pressure Pakistan into condemning the Federation; however, PM Khan was quick to call the hypocrisy and double standards of the West, which had not requested the same from India, China, and several other countries.
Pakistan has maintained a position of neutrality, and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has told VOA that “we do not want to be part of any camp.” Shah Mahmood Qureshi was also quick to dismiss the suggestion that Pakistan’s position of neutrality had strained relations with the United States.
The strained Cold-War relations between Russia and Pakistan have been healing. Last year, the Foreign Minister of Russia and a right-hand man of Vladimir Putin visited Pakistan, marking the first visit by a Russian FM to Pakistan in 9 years. In 2021, Russian and Pakistani forces also concluded the Druzbha-VI at the Molkino Training Area, Krasnodar, Russia.