The Scope and Sig­nif­i­cance of Pak-rus­sian Ties

The Diplomatic Insight - - Contents - DR. MOONIS AH­MAR Pro­fes­sor, De­part­ment of In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions and Direc­tor, Area Study Cen­ter for Europe. Univer­sity of Karachi

Un­like theWest­ern pow­ers, par­tic­u­larly the United States, the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion, suc­ces­sor of Soviet Union has a his­tory of pro­vid­ing as­sis­tance for strength­en­ing the in­dus­trial in­fra­struc­ture of Pak­istan and other de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. Since early 1950s when Pak­istan joined the an­ti­com­mu­nist al­liances, sev­eral bil­lion dol­lars of eco­nomic and mil­i­tary aid was pro­vided by the United States and many western pow­ers to Pak­istan, but not to up­lift the so­cio-eco­nomic con­di­tions of peo­ple or to help the coun­try achieve self-re­liance in in­dus­trial-tech­no­log­i­cal ar­eas. Amidst the ups and downs in Is­lam­abad-Moscow re­la­tions in the past, in the con­tem­po­rary era, the two sides are mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion. Mis­trust, sus­pi­cions, ill-will and en­emy im­ages which for decades over­shad­owed re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the cold-war era are now al­most non-ex­is­tent. The new phase in Pak-Rus­sian re­la­tions com­menc­ing from 1991 is how­ever not de­void of chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties. Rus­sia, a for­mer su­per­power and a per­ma­nent mem­ber of theUNSe­cu­rity Coun­cil has an in­ter­na­tional clout and is an im­por­tant player in re­gional pol­i­tics. With a pop­u­la­tion of only 140 mil­lion and world's largest coun­try in terms of ter­ri­tory, Rus­sia is rich in min­eral re­sources, is in­dus­tri­ally de­vel­oped, tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced and mil­i­tar­ily pow­er­ful. Play­ing a lead­ing role in Shang­hai Co­op­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion (SCO) with China and tak­ing a firm po­si­tion against ter­ror­ism, sep­a­ratism, mil­i­tancy and ex­trem­ism, Rus­sia con­sid­ers Pak­istan vi­tal in or­der to curb threats which im­pinge on its se­cu­rity and sovereignty. More than Rus­sia, it is Pak­istan which re­quires space and good­will at the in­ter­na­tional level to cope with iso­la­tion and pres­sures from Western pow­ers, par­tic­u­larly the United States. Re­dis­cov­er­ing Rus­sia in difficult cir­cum­stances is cer­tainly a mo­ment of truth for Pak­istan. If Is­lam­abad loses an op­por­tu­nity to widen its for­eign pol­icy depth by re­vi­tal­iz­ing its re­la­tions with Moscow, it may not get such a chance in the years to come. Mr. An­drey V. Demi­dov, Con­sul Gen­eral of Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion in Karachi while giv­ing an il­lu­mi­nat­ing talk at In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions De­part­ment, Univer­sity of Karachi on April 23 this year made some in­ter­est­ing re­marks about the scope and sig­nif­i­cance of Pak-Rus­sian ties. Ac­cord­ing to him, “In the 1990s, my coun­try un­der­took ef­forts to im­prove bi­lat­eral re­la­tions. In De­cem­ber 1991, the then Vice-Pres­i­dent of Rus­sia, A. Rut­skoi vis­ited Is­lam­abad. In De­cem­ber 1993, the then for­eign min­is­ter A. Kozyrev vis­ited Is­lam­abad too. Both lead­ers of Rus­sia of­fered the sup­ply of mod­ern weaponry to Pak­istan in ex­change for con­sumer goods.” Trade re­la­tions be­tween Pak­istan and Rus­sia re­mained neg­li­gi­ble for a long pe­riod of time as the two sides re­mained sus­pi­cious of each other. Mr. Demi­dov nar­rated the fact that “in the last two decades of the 20th cen­tury the co­op­er­a­tion be­tween our two coun­tries re­mained on a very low level. The bi­lat­eral trade vol­ume in 1980 was US $ 95 mil­lion only, and in 1990, 138 mil­lion. The record high vol­ume of bi­lat­eral trade was reached in 2008. It was about US $ 600 mil­lion. Rus­sia im­ported from Pak­istan tex­tiles, leather goods, sports equip­ment and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Pak­istan bought from Rus­sia steel, wheat, chem­i­cals but in view of world fi­nan­cial cri­sis the vol­ume of trade dropped to the level of US $ 300 mil­lion in 2009. In 2011, the vol­ume of bi­lat­eral trade reached the level of US $ 400 mil­lion.” The mea­ger level of Pak-Rus­sian trade is quite un­for­tu­nate and is con­trary to the po­ten­tial of rais­ing trade vol­ume to sev­eral bil­lion dol­lars. The Rus­sian of­fer to in­vest in en­ergy sec­tor, heavy in­dus­try, min­ing, in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment and build­ing wa­ter re­serves should have been ac­cepted par­tic­u­larly when Pak­istan is thirsty of for­eign in­vest­ment and its in­dus­tries are suf­fer­ing as a result of se­vere power cri­sis since the last­many years. There are var­i­ous im­por­tant re­al­i­ties which shape PakRus­sian re­la­tions over a pe­riod of last two decades how­ever

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