Beginning of new era with Russia

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AFTER a long history of bilateral turbulence, it is heartening to note that both Russia and Pakistan while forgetting the adversary of the past have initiated a new era of cooperation.

The last few years have seen the two countries getting closer together with focus on defence and economic cooperation.

The very visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Islamabad after a gap of almost a decade is also very significant one to turn a new leaf in the bilateral relationship.

The wide ranging talks held by the Russian Foreign Minister with his Pakistani counterpart as well as Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa really indicate the sense of seriousness and commitment on both sides to take forward the relationship to a level which is a win win for both the sides.

During talks, the Russian Foreign Minister expressed the determination to forge stronger trade, economic and defence relations with Pakistan.

Such a partnership indeed will not only augur well for both the countries but the entire region as Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi very rightly pointed out during a news conference with his Russian counterpart that Moscow is a factor of stability in the region and the world at large.

The Russian desire to provide military equipment opens a new and good defence market through which Pakistan can fulfil its defence needs, which in turn is beneficial for Russia.

Similarly, there are great opportunities between the two countries in the steel production and energy sector.

The initiation of work on Stream Gas Pipeline project envisaging laying of pipeline from Karachi to Lahore will also go a long way not only fulfilling Pakistan’s energy requirements but further exploration and development of the sector.

In our view, improved Russia-Pakistan connectivity with CPEC as its centrepiece could also bring the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) closer to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

On a grander scale, Pakistan could be the trans-regional gateway state for the EAEU’s further bloc-to-bloc integration with not only SAARC, but also the SCO and even the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The Russian side should be apprised about the prospects of investment in the SEZs being established under the CPEC. Their investment will further cement this relationship.

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