Experts weigh in on the different aspects of Pakistan and Russian relations
A panel discussion on “Pakistan and Russia: Challenges and Opportunities for a Comprehensive Relationship” was organized by the Center for Strategic Perspective (CSP) at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) to discuss the challenges faced as well as the opportunities that the two countries can explore to further strengthen their relations in future.
The panel comprised of esteemed academics and scholars including Dr. Leonid Savin, Geopolitical Analyst, Chief Editor at Geopolitca and Member Military-Scientific Society MoD; Prof. Dr. Shabir Ahmed Khan, Director (Russia, China & Central Asia), University of Peshawar; Prof. Dr. Adam Saud, Dean of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Bahria University, Islamabad; and Mr. Taimur Khan, Research Associate, CSP-ISSI.
Director CSP and Editor Najam Rafique said that two major developments have taken place in Pakistan-Russia relations that have taken place in November 2020: Russia’s infrastructure assistance in the North-South gas pipeline project, and Pak-Russia joint military exercises (Druzhba-V).
Dr. Savin opined that although there is still a lack of knowledge about Pakistan in his country, Russia is nurturing its relations with the former. Despite the Soviet legacy and historical baggage between the countries, economic and military cooperation is facilitating them to move into a productive engagement. The realization of Pakistan’s utility can be seen in various developments such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
Director General ISSI, Amb. Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said that it is America’s Pivot to Asia and China’s overall growing clout in the region and the world that has brought shifts in many state-to-state alignments. The current trajectory of Pak-Russia relations is an eventual product of these developments.
Dr. Shabir was confident about the nature and dynamics of the relations between Pakistan and Russia. However, he particularly highlighted the need to strengthen relations by connecting Russia and Central Asian countries with Pakistan through Afghanistan. He suggested to connect North-South connectivity project with Russian and Central Asia via Afghanistan. He highlighted education, food, agriculture, and energy as possible areas for cooperation.
Prof. Dr. Adam Saud said that strengthening of the core bilateral relations which are perception management and mutual understanding on both sides is important. He proposed to gradually strengthen military cooperation through SCO and technological cooperation in the field of civil nuclear assistance. He said that both countries can arrange road shows, increase cooperation on technical education, tourism, people-to-people contact and medical vaccine development for building a close bilateral cooperation.
Taimur Khan listed a number of areas of convergence for Moscow and Islamabad as major converging points of interest in Afghanistan. He was of the opinion that US-India strategic partnership can be a major determinant of Pak-Russia relations. He also suggested expanding CPEC-related activities in the region to Russia.