Pak­istan Rus­sia De­fence Re­la­tions Re­vis­ited

Dr. Tughral Yamin Re­tired Bri­gadier and cur­rently teaches at the Na­tional De­fence Univer­sity, Is­lam­abad.

The Diplomatic Insight - - Contents -

If it was not for the thin sliver of land known as theWakhan cor­ri­dor, Pak­istan and Rus­si­a­would have been neigh­bours. De­spite the ge­o­graph­i­cal prox­im­ity, it is in­deed un­for­tu­nate that af­ter so many years their bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship has failed to take off. At the best of times, it has only been luke­warm. The thaw has been slow and long drawn. The ma­jor stum­bling block had been the Cold War ri­valry be­tween the United States of Amer­ica and the Union of Soviet So­cial­ist Re­publics. Dur­ing this time pe­riod, which co­in­cided with its for­ma­tive years, Pak­istan chose to join the sys­tem of western al­liances. In­dia de­spite its claims to non-align­ment grew close to the USSR. The Sovi­ets re­turned the hon­our by cast­ing the veto in favour of In­dia, when­ever the case of Kash­mir was moved at the fo­rum of the United Na­tions. In De­cem­ber 1955 Prime Min­is­ter Khrushchev and Mar­shal Bul­ganin vis­ited In­dia and trav­elled all the way to Kash­mir. In a speech made in Sri­na­gar, Khrushchev point­edly de­clared “Kash­mir as one of the States of the Repub­lic of In­dia,” be­cause the de­ci­sion had al­ready been made by the peo­ple of Kash­mir. Bul­ganin re­ferred to Kash­mir as the north­ern part of In­dia and its pop­u­la­tion “as part of the In­dian peo­ple,” who he could dis­cern felt “great joy” at be­ing part of In­dia. A bizarre in­ci­dent in 1960 threat­ened to turn the ColdWar hot. Pak­istan stood at the epi­cen­tre of the storm. On 1st of May, a United States U2 spy plane was shot down deep inside Soviet airspace. The high al­ti­tude sur­veil­lance plane had taken off from the Pe­shawar air­base in north­ern Pak­istan and its end des­ti­na­tion was sup­posed to be Nor­way. The United States gov­ern­ment at first de­nied the plane's pur­pose and mis­sion, but then was forced to ad­mit its role as a covert sur­veil­lance air­craft, when the Soviet gov­ern­ment pro­duced its in­tact re­mains and sur­viv­ing pilot, Fran­cis Gary Pow­ers, as well as pho­tos of mil­i­tary bases in Rus­sia taken by Pow­ers. Com­ing roughly two weeks be­fore the sched­uled open­ing of an East–West sum­mit in Paris, the in­ci­dent was a great em­bar­rass­ment to the United States and prompted a marked de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in its re­la­tions with the Soviet Union. While the Pak­istani lead­er­ship was gen­uinely sur­prised about the in­ci­dent, the Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev threat­ened to de­stroy the Pe­shawar air­base and the elec­tronic eaves­drop­ping sta­tion at Bad­aber with a bar­rage of mis­siles. The Pak­ista­nis took note of the warn­ing and did not al­low any more U2 flights from Pe­shawar and did not re­new the lease of the Bad­aber sig­int fa­cil­ity, which closed down in Jan­uary 1970. Given the ex­ist­ing po­lit­i­cal cli­mate there­was lit­tle room for co­op­er­a­tion in de­fence re­lated mat­ters. How­ever, it would be un­fair to posit that it had been a to­tally un­fruit­ful af­fair. In April 1965, Pres­i­dent Ayub Khan be­came the first Pak­istani leader, ever to visit the USSR. He was ac­com­pa­nied by his young for­eign min­is­ter Zul­fiqar Ali Bhutto. Dur­ing his eight day vis­itAyub Khan met the Soviet lead­er­ship in­clud­ing Prime Min­is­ter Kosy­gin and For­eign Min­is­ter Gromyko. It was re­ported in the Soviet press that the dis­cus­sions con­cerned press­ing world is­sues, in­clud­ing the Viet­nam cri­sis. The Soviet press re­ported that the talks were held 'in a spirit of cor­dial­ity and friend­ship.' Af­ter the 1965 War the Soviet Union of­fered its good of­fices to ne­go­ti­ate a set­tle­ment be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan re­sult­ing from the 17 day clash. TheA­gree­ment bro­kered in­Tashkent by the Soviet premier Kosy­gin gave a glim­mer of hope that the long out­stand­ing dis­pute over Kash­mir may fi­nally be re­solved. The death of the In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Lal Ba­hadar Shas­tri on the eve of the sign­ing of theA­gree­ment put paid to th­ese early hopes. Since Amer­i­can mil­i­tary aid was stopped dur­ing the 1965 War, Pak­istan turned to other sources for de­fence sup­plies. The new sup­pli­ers in­cluded among oth­ers the for­mer Soviet Union (FSU). Pak­istani de­fence ac­qui­si­tions from the FSU in­cluded T59 main bat­tle tanks and the Mi8 he­li­copters. Pak­istan would also ac­quire the Mi17 he­li­copters but that would be many years later. In Jan­uary 1969 a con­tract was con­cluded with V/o Tyaz Prom­ex­port of the USSR, to pre­pare a fea­si­bil­ity re­port for the Pak­istan Steel Mills (PSM) Cor­po­ra­tion Lim­ited to be es­tab­lished and run at Karachi. In Jan­uary 1971 Pak­istan and the USSR signed an agree­ment un­der which the lat­ter agreed to pro­vide tech­no­fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance for the con­struc­tion of a coastal-based in­te­grated steel mill at Karachi. The foun­da­tion stone of this vi­tal and gi­gan­tic pro­ject was laid on 30 De­cem­ber 1973 by Prime Min­is­ter Zul­fikarAli Bhutto. The mam­moth con­struc­tion and erec­tion work of an in­te­grated steel mill was car­ried out by a con­sor­tium of Pak­istani con­struc­tion com­pa­nies un­der the over­all su­per­vi­sion of Soviet ex­perts. The steel mill is a strate­gic as­set of Pak­istan and con­trib­utes in no in­signif­i­cant­way to­wards its de­fence in­dus­try. Ever since a num­ber of events have put drags on Pak­istan's re­la­tions with Rus­sia. In 1971 be­fore the In­dian forces at­tacked Pak­istan's eastern wing, In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Indira Gandhi con­cluded the Indo–Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friend­ship and Co­op­er­a­tion. The treaty signed in Au­gust 1971 was good for 25 years and Ar­ti­cle IX of the Treaty ex­plic­itly de­clared that “In the event of ei­ther be­ing sub­jected to an at­tack or a threat thereof, the High Con­tract­ing Par­ties shall im­me­di­ately en­ter into mu­tual con­sul­ta­tions in or­der to re­move such threat and to take ap­pro­pri­ate ef­fec­tive mea­sures to en­sure peace and the se­cu­rity of their coun­tries.” It was a sig­nif­i­cant de­vi­a­tion from In­dia's pre­vi­ous po­si­tion of Non-align­ment. In 1976 Prime Min­is­ter Zul­fiqar Ali Bhutto vis­ited Moscow to re­vive re­la­tions the flag­ging re­la­tions with the Soviet Union. It was the case of too lit­tle and too late. The Soviet in­va­sion of Afghanistan (1979-89) brought Pak­istan and

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