Pakistan – Russia Bilateral Relations
Prof. Dr. Lubna Abid Ali Director School of Politics and International Relations Quaid-i-azam University, Islamabad.
Pakistan is the first to recognize Russia as the successor state of USSR. In the Post-ColdWar era relations between Russia and Pakistan are based on principle of reciprocity and mutuality of interests. Russia supported Pakistan's membership of ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and Pakistan enabled Russia to secure observer status in OIC. However, in addition to this cooperation within the framework of multilateral organisations the potential for bilateral relations is still to be realized. The pertinent question in the context of Pakistan is how to formulate foreign policy choices so as to able balance the major regional and global powers. What complicacies Pakistan's agenda is its significant geostrategic location American intervention in 2001, and a host of domestic challenges to its democracy, governance and national unity. Meherunnisa Ali's Reading in Pakistan's Foreign Policy: 1971-1998 and Hafeez Malik's Soviet – Pakistan Relations and Post – Soviet Dynamics summarise well the future prospects for mutually beneficial relations between Russia and Pakistan. Initially the relationship has been of restraint due to Pakistan's pro-west pasture during the ColdWar period. In 1960's Pakistan changed its foreign policy posture under the then foreign minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto' 'bilateralism' through an oil exploration agreement of 1961. The Tashkent Declaration at the end of 1965 war enabled Soviet – Russia to act as a constructive super power. On Bhutto's insistence the word 'Kashmir' was incorporated in the final draft of the declaration and Pakistan's point of view of Kashmir was made known to the world. ZulfikarAli Bhutto visited Moscow twice, 1972 and 1974 and it helped both the sides to understand each other's points-of-view on regional affairs. Relations ditched after Soviet intervention in Afghanistan 1979. After the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan, the then Secretary General of Pakistan's foreign affairs, Akram Zaki visited Moscow in 1992. The goal of Pakistan's foreign policy has been outlined by Quaid-I-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, on the occasion of inauguration of the Pakistan Broadcasting Service on 15 August 1947: Our object should be peace within and peace without. We want to live peacefully and maintain cordial and friendly relations with our immediate neighbours and the world at large. We have no aggressive designs against anyone. We stand by the United Nations Charter and will gladly make our full contribution to the peace and prosperity of the world. ( Foreign Office Book: 2005 – 2006, http://www.mofa.org.pk) Due to transformation in the region and change in Russia's global position at the end of ColdWar Russia's policy in the South Asia context has also undergone a modification. Three broad foreign policy objectives of Russian Federation have been approved by Vladimir Putin since 200: i. To strengthen Russia's role as a regional power with emphasis on the “near abroad” through economic integration so as to counter American and European influence. ii. The creation of a Eurasian alliance to reduce the preponderance of theUSunchallenged global influence.
iii. To establish mature strategic partnershipwithAmerica. Of course, Russia's regional role is based on incorporation of the principle of 'soft power', by promoting economic and energy cooperation with a flexible approach in its foreign policy. Prior to the end of Cold War, Pakistan being separated from U.S.S.R through the rugged Wakhan strip. With the emergence of Central Asian States, in the early 90's Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan lie between Pakistan and Russia. After 9/11 Islamabad recognized the damage caused by the Taliban to its relations with Russia and Central Asian states. Following the end of Taliban regime Russia also realized the fact that Pakistan cannot be ignored in the changed geo-political context. Common cause of fighting extremism resulted in increased cooperation since 2002 Joint working group on counter terrorism. The Russian Prime Minister Mikhail E. Fradkov visited Pakistan 11 – 13 April 2007. An agreement was signed on combating illicit drug trafficking. The volume of trade between Russia and Pakistan increased from 92 million dollar in 2003 to over 700 million in 2011. There is an urgency to create strong economic links with Russia. The likely area of cooperation seems to be expansion of the SteelMills Karachi as well as investment by Russian firms in Pakistan's oil and gas sectors. The Chairman of the Board of Directors Magnitogorsk, Iron and SteelWorks of Russia, Viktor Raslinkove, has committed to invest $2 billion for the upgradation of Pakistan. Pakistan's main exports to Russia are textile items and can be further expanded. A six member delegation of the International Affairs Committee of the State Duma (National Assembly) of the Russian Federation visited Pakistan in 2006. The democratic government in Pakistan has further accelerated the pace of relations covering diverse areas of cooperation. The 5th Round of Pakistan – Russia Consultative Group on