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Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS - Ali Ashraf Khan Email:balti1551@gmail.com

for­eign pol­icy and will not join US camp against Rus­sia. Re­ply­ing to a news­men’s ques­tion, he also de­clared that if in­vited he would be de­lighted to visit Moscow on a state visit. Alas! he was as­sas­si­nated in Oc­to­ber 1951 while he had re­ceived invitation for state visit from Premier Joseph Stalin to take place in May 1952 and one can eas­ily see the con­nec­tion with this an­nounce­ment. Then his suc­ces­sors who were not rep­re­sen­ta­tives of peo­ple de­stroyed the im­age and nomen­cla­ture of our beloved home­land so that the masses did then re­al­ize what was good for them and what not. So since then a po­lit­i­cal strug­gle ini­ti­ated through the so­called Char­ter of Democ­racy and NRO is go­ing on to fur­ther en­hance the US hege­mony in this re­gion to es­tab­lish US Em­pire. After Li­aquat Ali’s as­sas­si­na­tion, Pak­istan got it­self drawn on to the side of Western al­liances SEATO and CENTO headed by the US dur­ing the cold war pe­riod.

A new term of de­tente was coined in In­ter­na­tional re­la­tions for re­duc­tion of ten­sion be­tween coun­tries. This term gained pop­u­lar­ity dur­ing 1970’s when the US Pres­i­dents Richard Nixon and Ger­ald Ford tried to draw the USSR into a closer re­la­tion­ship with the USA that was only pos­si­ble after Pak­istan had played the master stroke of bridg­ing the gap be­tween USA and China by fa­cil­i­tat­ing US Sec­re­tary of State Henry Kissinger to fly on a se­cret mis­sion to Beijing. The last and the most suc­cess­ful time of de­tente be­tween the two su­per pow­ers came when Mikhail Gor­bachev’s pres­i­dency of the USSR, which saw mul­ti­lat­eral talks for dis­ar­ma­ment T HERE is a dearth of good news th­ese days in Pak­istan, but one that should give good rea­son for op­ti­mism is the ‘land­mark’ agree­ment for de­fence co­op­er­a­tion signed be­tween Rus­sia and Pak­istan. After many years of rather cold bi­lat­eral re­la­tions this agree­ment seems to be a new be­gin­ning for Pak­istan’s for­eign re­la­tions and its po­si­tion­ing with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. The agree­ment was signed dur­ing the visit of Rus­sian De­fence Min­is­ter Gen­eral Sergey Kuzhuge­tovich Shoygu, who was ac­com­pa­nied by a 41-mem­ber high-level del­e­ga­tion of Rus­sian de­fence of­fi­cials. The Rus­sian De­fence Min­is­ter is the high­est dig­ni­tary of his coun­try un­der­tak­ing the visit of Pak­istan after sud­den post­pone­ment of the visit of Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin two years ago in Oc­to­ber.

Since the aborted visit of Prime Min­is­ter Li­aquat Ali Khan to Moscow in 1950, when he pre­ferred to go on a three week state visit to US in May 1950, US asked Pak­istan to pro­vide bases and join fi­nan­cial do­main that Li­aquat Ali Khan con­sid­ered a sell-off; he in­stead of re­fus­ing pre­sented his de­mand. When Li­aquat Ali asked the US to an­nounce un­con­di­tional support of the US for Pak­istan on Kashmir, it was flatly re­fused. He soon re­al­ized his mis­take and Li­aquat Ali Khan de­clared while still on US soil that as a con­se­quence Pak­istan will ad­here to an in­de­pen­dent agree­ments SALT and START lead­ing to end of cold war.

De­spite our re­peated bad ex­pe­ri­ences with the SEATO and CENTO al­liance and es­pe­cially with the US in 1965, 1971 and 1989, Pak­istan each time re­newed this al­liance de­spite the bad ex­pe­ri­ences. While Rus­sia has long been the largest sup­plier of arms to In­dia while the Pak­istani army for decades has been re­ly­ing on arms pro­vi­sion on the US and even this has been a story with many let­downs: just re­mem­ber the years of de­lay in the pro­vi­sion of F-16 de­spite the fact that the money for the pur­chase had been paid. Another ob­sta­cle in the Russo-Pak­istani re­la­tions has surely been Rus­sia’s close part­ner­ship with In­dia that was ce­mented by the Indo–Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friend­ship and Co­op­er­a­tion that had been signed be­tween the two coun­tries in 1971.

Look­ing at the present de­fence agree­ment, it seems that it could open a new chap­ter not only in the re­la­tions be­tween Rus­sia and Pak­istan but also mark the be­gin­ning of Pak­istan’s re­ori­en­ta­tion of for­eign re­la­tions to­wards the newly evolv­ing power al­liance in Asia headed by Rus­sia and China. This new di­rec­tion in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions is sup­ported by the fact of Rus­sia’s support for Pak­istan’s can­di­da­ture for full mem­ber­ship of Shang­hai Co­op­er­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion (SCO) – another fea­ture of the newly de­vel­op­ing in­ter­na­tional power struc­ture with im­pli­ca­tions not only for eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion but for de­fence and se­cu­rity re­lated co­op­er­a­tion as well.

The only worry in this con­nec­tion is if this agree­ment signed by the De­fence Min­is­ter of Pak­istan - a per­son and po­si­tion that has not been fa­mous for strong po­lit­i­cal in­tol­er­ate flu­ence and good re­la­tions with the army - is ac­cepted by the army whole-heart­edly. As a mat­ter of fact the visit of the Rus­sian del­e­ga­tion comes at a time when the COAS Gen­eral Ra­heel Sharif is in the US on an ex­tended tour seem­ingly as­sur­ing the Americans of Pak­istani loy­alty and fullfledged in­ten­tion of deal­ing with the men­ace of mil­i­tancy that has come to Pak­istan also as a re­sult of ill-con­ceived Amer­i­can for­eign pol­icy. So, are army and gov­ern­ment ‘on the same page’ in this mat­ter?

One hopes in­tensely so though a re­cent com­men­tary in the me­dia stated that there was no common page be­tween the army and this gov­ern­ment. So far the army has been de­vis­ing its own pol­icy in­stead of co­or­di­nat­ing with a rather weak and con­fused gov­ern­ment. The ‘ mis­rep­re­sented’ quo­ta­tion of Sar­taj Aziz in his in­ter­view with the BBC may be a good ex­am­ple for the con­fu­sion. There­fore, it would have been more com­fort­ing if Gen­eral Ra­heel would have been present dur­ing this highly im­por­tant visit. We could have waited for his re­turn un­less it was from the Rus­sian side to do it now.

The fu­ture of Asia and the world will be saved if power bal­ance is shifted by the coun­tries of this re­gion into SCO and other re­lated al­liances in­stead of war mon­ger­ing US and NATO al­liance sup­ported by EU and IMF. The diplo­macy and pru­dent man­age­ment of In­ter­na­tional af­fairs will yield fruit­ful re­sults by rec­on­cil­ing dif­fer­ences be­tween Rus­sia and Pak­istan. GOD Bless Hu­man­ity and Pak­istan. —The writer is Karachi-based se­nior colum­nist.

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