Pakistan – Russia strategic ties Efficacy over regional confrontation


By Muhammad Javed Siddique

 The Asian region has nice political, military, economic and geostrategic implications for the remainder of the world. Modern challenges have influenced the international order, usually when the cold war and particularly in past few years within the Asian continent. Transformation of power in Southern, Eastern and Northern parts of Asia an embodiment of new power structures on the globe.   The speedy emergence of geo-strategic relations in South Asia has affected ties between recent friends and foes.

Pakistan-Russia relations have remained over-shadowed by Pak-US union for many a part of the history. Pakistan-Russia relations had some positive and far trumpeted negative. Several opportunities to thaw the strained relations were lost either because of Pakistan’s pro-western stance or suspicions on Russian-Indian alliance. However, within the post 9/11 amount, Pakistan as a front line state within the war against terror and Russian regional betterment is providing a chance for revival of relations.

Vladimir Putin has been Russia’s dominant political figure since 2000 and Russia below him is reasserting its role in its immediate sphere of influence. In South Asia, Russia has shut ties with the Asian country and over the past decade, relations grew with redoubled diplomatic engagement. Pakistan and Russia, are now improving bilateral relations for the promotion of their mutual interests in the region.  Russia, China, and Pakistan are now to be the game changers in the 21st century.

Russia offers new avenues for strategic and economic partnership for Pakistan. Each has several points of convergence. Whereas Pakistan wants Russian investment in invigorating its economy, Russia is additionally eyeing Pakistan as an authentic destination for its investments and trade. There are strategic as well as economic opportunities available to both the countries in this era of economic and regional blocs. Both countries decision makers have avenues for cooperation especially in the post-US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Pakistan is anxious to maintain its importance as a key player in Afghanistan. Afghanistan, India-US relations could be a challenging factor in Pakistan-Russia relationship, but both countries are determined to better their relationship despite constraints that are manageable. New beginnings in Pakistan-Russia relations would primarily depend on the priorities of their decision makers.

Contemporary trend of heightened diplomatic relations boosted in 2014 once Russian government divulged from the arms and military hardware embargo against Pakistan. Moscow confirmed to supply four MI-35 helicopters to Islamabad, in 2015. Following the results of the talks held before on helicopters, which Pakistan would like to get from Russia, a draft agreement on the release of four MI-35M gun ships has been sent to the Pakistani side.

Pakistan seeks direct Russian investment and technological cooperation, particularly in the nuclear energy sector. Moscow’s state-owned nuclear energy company Rosa Tam has a significant international presence, and energy deficient. Pakistan can be a particularly beneficial business opportunity, with the possibility of long-term gains. The Carnegie Moscow Center’s Peter Topychkonov has highlighted the importance of Russia-Pakistan nuclear cooperation. Currently, nuclear energy contributes only 3 percent to the total energy mix of Pakistan Russian assistance in civilian nuclear energy will enable Pakistan to overcome its massive power deficit.

In 1967, Government of Pakistan acquired land for the construction of “Heavy Electrical Complex” with the possible funding by the Soviet Union at Taxila. The project, however, could not complete, Pakistan despite its desire couldn’t develop any tangible military ties with the Soviet Union, mainly because of the conflict politics and alliance systems in South Asia.

In 2001, Russia volitionally in agreement to launch, Pakistan’s satellite, Badr from its Baikonur launches station for the lowest possible charges. Russia has 2 major issues that link it directly or indirectly to Pakistan. 1st is Afghanistan’s narcotics trade that ends up in Russian Federation before trickling all the way down to the rest of Europe. The other issue is the extralegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants from Pakistan use Russia as a launching pad to enter Europe.

Pakistan’s former Chief of Army staff, Ashfaq Pervaiz Kiani’s visit to Russia in 2012 is seen as a positive step towards Pakistan-Russian Federation coop up the USA post-withdrawal Afghanistan. The Chief of Pakistan Air Force, air marshal Tahir Rafique Butt also visited Russia in 2012. Pakistan has shown interest in buying MI-35, MI-17 helicopters, engineers for JF-17 program, missile defense systems and submarines.

Within the same connection, commander of the Russian air force visited Pakistan on 17 April 2013 to discuss military deals for the first time in the history of Russian Pakistan relations. The Russian Federation can also provide greater insight to the Pakistani counterparts on the war on terrorism, because of their expertise with the war in Chechnya. This cooperation is often terribly useful for each the countries. In the fight against terrorism, Pakistan has incurred a total loss of over $123.1 billion in the last 16 years.

It is estimated that over 50,000 people including army, police, and civilians have lost their lives. Russian’s decision to go ahead with the sale of MI-35 attack helicopters to Pakistan is significant because it will increase the military’s strength and mobility and will assist in the fight against militancy.

With relation to Pakistan and Russia’s security interests, the two most high up developments which took place last year was the former’s addition as a permanent member state in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and also the latter’s headship of the executive council of SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS).Col-Gen Yevgenity Sysoyev, UN agency was Deputy Director of Russian external intelligence FSB’s National Antiterrorism Committee (NAC), took over as Director of the RATS Council.

SCO member states take charge of governing bodies on rotation and the appointment of a Russian expert is indeed of much significance a number of weeks before his appointment, the previous Director RATS Council Mr. Zhang Xinfeng had met Mr. Tahir Aziz Chaudhry, Pakistani Ambassador to Uzbekistan on December 4, 2015, to discuss issues of mutual interest 2 months earlier to this on October 22, 2015, SCO members and observers participated within the third conference organized by executive Committee RATS to discuss issues of support pertaining to international terrorism and extremism among the participating states. Pakistan was also joined in the conference. This unprecedented military cooperation between former rivals Pakistan and the erstwhile Soviet Union is bound to gall India since Moscow has been New Delhi’s strategically since decades.

Russia will continue its attempt to develop a cooperative relationship with Islamabad because the region holds strategic and economic significance. Attentive to Pakistan’s past behavior and its strategy of supporting the act of terrorism, Russia would fastidiously monitor Islamabad’s actions and influence in the region.

Arguably, suspicion and hostility in the relations continue since the cold war period. So as to develop strong bilateral relations with Russia, Asian country has to overcome the impediments that have impacted the bilateral engagement. In this direction, Islamabad may seek to refurbish its image of a nation that has been a hub of religious fundamentalism, terrorist organizations, and insurgency if it is to work towards enhancing its partnership with Russia, particularly in the aspect of Pak-Afghan regional security. In the case of Pakistan, Russia’s engagement, including Defence cooperation with it, can continue so long as Islamabad is able to meet Moscow’s interests and secure its key policy objectives.

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