PAKISTAN and Russian ties, has been a see-saw game. Just as Hussein Shaheed Suhrawardy broke the ice by meeting towering Chinese leader Chou En-Lai at Bandung conference in 1955, so did Zulfikar Ali Bhutto after becoming petroleum minister signed the Oil and Gas agreement with ex-Soviet Union, and now Pakistan and Russian Federation have kept moving forwards since last few years, in defense, economic, political and diplomatic fields. Their intentions are based on goodwill, depicting hope and promise for a brilliant future ahead.
Russia and Pakistan realized the importance of each other in changing situation in late 2000s. In 2011, Russia supported Pakistan to join Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and also praised Pakistan efforts against Militancy. It very openly objected to NATO strikes in Pakistan and offered to revive Pakistan steel mills and invest in energy sector. The mutual current trade volume is on the rise and currently stands at around 580 million, which has been stated as much lower than potential, Russia is assisting Pakistan in energy sector e.g TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan.- Pakistan-India), NSGPP (North South Gas Pipeline Project) and has announced14 Billion USD investment.
Pakistan Russia military relations have also improved over the recent years. A defense /Counter Terrorism related agreement was signed in 2014. Under the deal *4 Mi35* helicopters were also sold to Pakistan since 2016, Pakistan and Russia are conducting joint military drills / exercise named DRUZBHA. All this happened after the defense of Russian defense minister to Pakistan, and PAF chief Air Marshal Mujahid Anwar’s visit to Moscow which changed the entire perception of their bilateral relation
As a gesture of goodwill for Russian support, Pakistan has already granted Russia permission to use Gwadar port through CPEC. Pakistan plans to join CPEC with Eurasian economic union, central Asian Republics) Pakistan Russia plan to energies the relationship at strategic levels and confidence of both states in each other is growing at a fast pace. Seen in the background of 60s and 70s when Russian Prime Minister Alexi Kosygin visited Pakistan, and Mr Bhutto as President toured Moscow to seek solution to the post-1971 crisis, and offered to open air services, diplomatic relations with India and newly created State of Bangladesh, strengthening trade and economic ties.
But soon after Simla Agreement in which USA and Now defunct Soviet Union played significant role, Indira Gandhi and Shiekh Mujeeber Rehman agreed to release Pakistan prisoners of war. But then became a bitter era when Soviet President Podgorny rebuked General Ziaul Haq, and India was armed to teeth with soviet sophisticated weaponry. How time is the biggest healer. Times keep changing. Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, saw eight years of long and devastating war, but the ex-USSR’s occupation of Afghanistan, after the 1987 peace agreement, done under the guidance and leadership of late prime minister Moammad Khan Junejo, the end of USSR after 70 years of existence, finally led to Soviet Union break-up in 21 different State. The tragic script of hegemony finally saw it dead end in 1987.
After that a new blood, new leadership, new thinking, and new approach and attitude in renamed Russian federation and its leadership brought Pakistan and Russia closer together. The Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Gen Nadeem Raza, in his meeting with Chief of General Staff of the Russian Federation, Gen Valery V Gerasimov, discussed bilateral defense ties and regional security situation. Russian and Pakistan Navy signed agreements to combat drug trafficking through sea, Russia is ready to buy Pak Steel, and with a little bit of diplomacy and goodwill on both sides, may well see Russia installing two more Steel Mills, an industry of vital import, named as mother of all industries, for it will depend on iron and steel needs for our Industrial progress, and meeting defense production.
The change of heart since 2000 has been eloquently described by none else than former prime minister of USSR MIcheal Gorbachev. He was often praised and criticized for his ‘Prestroika’ for it finally saw USSR break up. But many others praised his philosophy for opening new windows for his country, and lifting the iron curtain for it was known. He has great hope that relations between two countries will continue to grow from strength to strength.