Need to strengthen ties with Russia

DESPITE Islamabad’s utmost efforts to develop strong relations with Washington and all out cooperation in war on terror, the response from the latter has never been encouraging rather it always uses different tactics and tools particularly financial instruments to keep the former always under undue pressure. In recent days stresses and strains in bilateral relations became more evident with the US Congress endorsing a draft bill to block $ 450 million aid and making a fresh push for release of Shakil Afridi who the US considers as hero for helping hunt down Osama Bin Laden. Similarly, the country keeps churning out questionable statements about Pakistan’s nuclear programme.
To obtain freedom from this mounting US pressure, it has become imperative for Pakistan not to put all its eggs in one basket and rather develop strategic relations with other powerful countries especially Russia who has shown the desire and readiness to come close to Pakistan in the recent past while forgetting the bitterness of Cold War era. It is therefore, time that Pakistan engages deeply with Moscow which still wields much influence in world politics in order to build the bilateral relations on strong footing. Bilateral trade between the two countries has always suffered due to Pakistan’s long lasting orientation and tilt towards the US which stretches back to the Cold War. As a result, trade between Pakistan and Russia has remained relatively stagnant over the years. Recently, however, significant steps have been taken which signal improvement in bilateral relations. August 2015 defence deal between the two countries shows that bitter past is fading away and it ensures an opportunity for Pakistan to get defence equipment from Russia. In fact the partnership is going beyond military deal as Russia has also expressed the interest to invest in country’s energy and economic sectors. It is lending $ 2 billion for the construction of a pipeline to carry LNG from Karachi to Lahore. These developments indicate that the two countries have turned a new page on bilateral relations and we hope these would be further strengthened with reciprocal cooperation in diverse sectors including investment and trade and greater people to people contacts. Establishment of free trade zones will further help business communities of the two countries to bolster the trade relations.

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