Pak-Russia relations growing

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Kaswar Klasra

Islamabad

In October 1985, Soviets launched an aggressive campaign against Pakistan’s Nuclear Programme.
Two years later, on August 7, 1987 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) drew attention of Ronald Regan’s administration about Soviet’s well planned campaign against Pakistan’s Nuclear Programme.
The memorandum was prepared by CIA’s Officer of Near Eastern and South Asian Analysis.
“For the past few years Moscow has campaigned actively against Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapon Programme in the both the press and private demarches. Although Moscow’s criticism is consistent with it longstanding desire to limit the spread of nuclear weapons, it also, is exploiting the issue to its own advantage in South Asia. Soviet attacks on Pakistani Programme escalates during periods of tension with Islamabad –usually over Afghanistan –and subside when Moscow is seeking improved bilateral ties,” stated the memorandum.
What is interesting to note in this memorandum is that , it clearly indicated that Soviet was playing a sensible game. Not only it charged USA with complicity in helping Pakistan develop nuclear weapons in return for Islamabad’s cooperation in projecting military power into South Asia and serving as a supply base for the resistance forces in Afghanistan, but also indirectly offered Pakistan it can abruptly end well-orchestrated campaign against its nuclear campaign if the later stops backing ‘ Mujahedeen’ against Russians.
“Moscow hopes to pressure Pakistan into backing away from its nuclear weapons Programme and perhaps, more importantly, into modifying its policy towards Pakistan. Moscow is also seeking to undermine US-Pakistani relations, strengthen relation with India, portray the Unites States as threat to regional stability and project image of a respectable superpower seeking peaceful solution to regional problem,” stated the memorandum which rang bells in power corridors of USA.
The memorandum which be available at CIA’s website, stated if the United States cuts aid to Pakistan as a result of Islamabad’s nuclear procurement activities, Moscow probably will soften its criticism of Pakistan in an effort to exploit the strain in US-Pakistani relations. If Pakistan subsequently backs away from its support for Afghanistan resistance , Moscow almost certainly will seek improved relations with Pakistan in order to further prospects for a favorable political settlement in Afghanistan.
Highly classified and secret memorandum was recently made public. Off-the record conversation and background interviews revealed that Pakistan-USA relationship reached its peak by the end of 1987 which ultimately resulted in breakup of Soviet Union.
However, times have changed now.
The ice is melting between Pakistan and Russia, two Cold War era foes. Security analysts believe that a new yet powerful militarily and financially, block comprising Pakistan, China and Russia has surfaced on the horizon more recently.
Even Prime Minister’s special envoy on Kashmir Mushahid Hussain Syed publicly talked aggressively of a new China-Russia-Pakistan axis in December last year.
Encouraged by China, incumbent government in Pakistan has taken elaborate measures to bridge the gap between Pakistan and Russia, two cold war era foe. And Russia hasn’t disappointed Pakistan as well. Talks are doing the round in power corridors of Islamabad that Pakistan is likely to give Moscow access to its deep sea water port, Gwadar, for import and export of goods.
Officials in Islamabad revealed that the Russian had expressed the desire to be part of CPEC and use Gwadar Port for import and export.
‘Pakistan has welcomed Russia’s request to be a part of the multi-billion dollar project of CPEC,’ a senior Pakistani official told Pakistan Observer.
He added that a formal announcement will be made in a couple of months.
According to many experts in Pakistan, the latest development shows that Pakistan and Russia are laying foundations of improving bilateral ties after decades of sour ties during and after the Cold War era.
It is believed that geostrategic relations are rapidly changing in South Asia.
Meanwhile former Cold War rivals – India and the US – are bolstering their defence and trade ties amid concerns about China’s assertiveness in the region, particularly in the disputed South China Sea.
Likewise, Islamabad and Washington, which were allies against the erstwhile Soviet Union and collaborated in the 1980s Afghan War, are drifting away.
The development comes in the wake of Pakistan’s deteriorating relations with the US following the American forces’ raid in Abbottabad that killed Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in May 2011.
Off-the-record conversation with well informed officials in Islamabad revealed that Pakistani government was visibly perturb following US President Barack Obama’s visit to India in January 2016. Since then , said the officials, Pakistani government found a soft corner in Russia — seeking military and energy assistance from a country against which it helped the US fight a proxy war.
Officials said that growing relationship between US and India was a sigh of worry. They said that balance of power is being tipped toward India, and that is not good, and it’s been done with the help of the Western World. That is why we are looking at various markets, because conventional [military] parity is the only recipe for peace and stability.
Officials in Islamabad believe that Pakistan has found in Moscow a partner interested in military and energy partnerships as the former seeks to counterbalance recent US moves which it claims unbalances ‘deterrence stability in South Asia’.
“To be very honest, we think Obama has gone one step too far,” said Maria Sultan, chairwoman of the Islamabad-based South Asian Strategic Stability Institute.
Research done by this correspondent revealed that , over the last couple of years, Russia has attempted to expand its relationship with Pakistan. Pakistan and Russia are in the process of finalizing a military deal that includes the sale of Su-35 fighter jets. Moreover, last year, Russia and Pakistan signed an agreement for the construction of an 1,100 kilometer gas pipeline from Lahore to Karachi.

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