Khar off to Russia with love

Published: January 21, 2012

Foreign minister will fly to Moscow to invite President Medvedev. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: 

In a development that signifies a paradigm shift in the country’s decades-old foreign policy, Pakistan is set to formally invite the Russian president to undertake a visit at a time when its relationship with the United States is faltering.

If Dmitry Medvedev accepts the invitation, he will be the first Russian head of state to visit Islamabad.

A foreign office official told The Express Tribune that Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar is expected to visit Moscow in the first half of February to formally extend her country’s invitation to the Russian president for a maiden trip.

The move is part of Pakistan’s efforts to reach out to countries such as Russia in the wake of its strained ties with the US. Relations between Islamabad and Washington have continued to deteriorate since the November 26 Nato airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

That incident not only prompted authorities to shut down key supply route for the western forces stationed in Afghanistan but also initiated a review of the entire relationship with the US. An all-party and bicameral parliamentary panel has already furnished its recommendations to rewrite the terms of engagements with Washington.

The foreign policy review includes recommendations that Pakistan must re-evaluate its relationship with Russia. The two-day envoys conference attended by ambassadors from select capitals has proposed measures to upgrade ties with Moscow in an attempt to reduce reliance on the US.

“There was a consensus that we should take our relationship with Russia to the next level,” said a foreign office official.

It is believed that China is also quietly pushing Pakistan and Russia to move beyond their bitter past and write a new chapter in their ties in view of the evolving regional and international situation.

Islamabad and Moscow remained bitter enemies in the 1980s when Pakistan, along with western countries, backed the so-called holy warriors, or ‘mujahideen’, fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan. But in recent years the two countries have attempted to move beyond that phase of their relationship.

In an unprecedented statement following the Nato attacks on Pakistani check posts last year, Russia publicly denounced the incident, emphasising that a nation’s sovereignty should always be upheld, even when hunting ‘terrorists’.

In May last year, President Asif Zardari undertook a historic visit to Moscow, the first official trip by any head of state from Pakistan in 37 years. Recently, a top Russian military commander also paid a rare visit to Pakistan. The visit by Colonel General Alexander Postnikov, Commander -in-Chief Russian Ground Forces, was the first by any senior military official from the former Soviet Union in recent years. The significance of the visit can be judged from the fact that the Russian general was given a guard of honour and full protocol on his arrival at the GHQ.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2012.

Reader Comments (34)

  • Atheist, India
    Jan 21, 2012 - 10:25AM

    Yes that is why countries make relationship with Pakistan… for love.

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  • farhan aziz
    Jan 21, 2012 - 10:32AM

    Sexist headline.she’s the foreign minister,her gender shouldn’t matter.this wouldn’t have been the headline if this were a male foreign minister going abroad on official visits.

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  • vasan
    Jan 21, 2012 - 10:36AM

    I smell something here. IS Pakistan likely to get trampled between the fights of the elephants. Pak govt should tread very carefully here. If they focus on economy and security and get their growth going, the biggies will come in a line to Pakistan without even an invitation. That will be a better way to get their support instead of running to them in times of crisis at Pak.

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  • Jan 21, 2012 - 10:52AM

    So Chechnya can be ignored, just like the plight of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, China. But, never Kashmir. Right?

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  • Irtiza
    Jan 21, 2012 - 10:54AM

    A step that should havee been taken much earlier. Well!! it’s never too late.

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  • Babar
    Jan 21, 2012 - 11:02AM

    Caption of the News with Ms. Khar’s picture say half of the story, remaining half is written undrneath.

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  • Syed Farrukh Hussain Shah
    Jan 21, 2012 - 11:09AM

    That right step…it should be appreciated and let it go ahead..

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  • Red hot move!
    Jan 21, 2012 - 11:20AM

    Russia will be falling all over for this great opportunity to befriend super power Pakistan which can brush off the US at will! Ofcourse it makes sense to find new friends in far off lands, and keep its enmity with neighbour India! next time Pak needs any heklp in a conflict with India, US/china may not come to its help, but good old russia will!! Afterall they have a foolish foriegn policy!

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  • Pakistani in US
    Jan 21, 2012 - 11:26AM

    So we do exactly opposite of what India does? During cold-war, India and US were at loggers heads (with India being friend of Russia). Now the situation is going to be completely opposite. I am waiting for the day when China becomes our enemy because based on our foreign relations history, this is going to happen sooner or later. I don’t know when are we going to get mature? enough of this teenager melodrama.

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  • Jan 21, 2012 - 11:40AM

    Its time Pakistan moved past its old grudge with countries like Russian and India and improve their relationship with these countries rather then relying on the US for everything. Clearly Russian, China and India can be better allies for Pakistan then the US!

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  • ashok sai
    Jan 21, 2012 - 11:46AM

    With only few months remaining for this Government’s tenure and there is a clear rift between them and the military which holds power of designing foreign policy, I sincerely doubt this visit will make any significant impact on Russia or any other country for that matter.

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  • Pakistani
    Jan 21, 2012 - 11:47AM

    Stop strategic role , start economic role and stability .
    If this visit is under the above slogan then its well come from the People of Pakistan .

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  • Raza
    Jan 21, 2012 - 11:50AM

    This is a good development. US takes us for granted; we should bolster our ties with Russia, and increase our reliance on China which has always been a supportive ally.

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  • Shahbaz Khan
    Jan 21, 2012 - 11:52AM

    The cheesy headline is not worthy of a serious newspaper! That apart, this is a step in the right direction. We should engage all countries in the region and establish bilateral relations based on mutual interest. I hope that this is intended to be a meaningful exercise and not a childish attempt to spite U.S.

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  • international spectator.
    Jan 21, 2012 - 11:53AM

    @Pakistani in US:
    “I am waiting for the day when China becomes our enemy because based on our foreign relations history, this is going to happen sooner or later”

    That has an easy solution!! If China acts tough, ditch them and start relationship with Tibet and Taiwan!! Always be one up and becoming an international opportunist!!

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  • Salman Sheikh
    Jan 21, 2012 - 11:57AM

    Russia will be good economical ally of Pakistan as they were in the past.. Democratic govt fall for US and they ignored Russia’s help. Its late but Nice move.

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  • BS.Detecter
    Jan 21, 2012 - 12:04PM

    @BruteForce:
    I’m smelling something is burning in our eastern border.

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  • antanu g
    Jan 21, 2012 - 12:16PM

    @Pakistani in US:
    do u have any option to suggest?. u can not sit idle waiting for relations to get sour. and why this negative attitude? why china should become pak wnemy? come out of ur fixed and biased mindset and appreciate if past mistakes are being rectified.but people like u would not support it….because its pakistan….its a shame.

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  • You Said It
    Jan 21, 2012 - 12:49PM

    Is this an attempt to diversify the source of our arms imports away from the US? Given the poor quality of Chinese equipment, importing from Russia may be a better option technically. But I doubt if Russia will be as enthusiastic about partnering with us given their longstanding warm relations with India and the billions that India still pours into Russian arms industry. Just last month Russia delivered the Nerpa submarine, not to mention the pending aircraft carrier and frigates orders. Of course the whale is the potential $50 billion Indian investment in the PAK FA jet which is vital to the survival of the Russian defence industry. India also has long and deep technical insight into Russian designs which would make reduce the strategic effectiveness of any Russian equipment we purchase.

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  • Blithe
    Jan 21, 2012 - 12:54PM

    @farhan aziz:

    it is from that James Bond movie, “From
    Russia with Love” – nothing sexist here.

    The title just shows that she is there on a friendship mission,

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  • pervaiz memon
    Jan 21, 2012 - 1:07PM

    I think ice was already melt b/w Pakistan and Russia relation . In last two year Pakistan has improve his relation with china , Russia and Iran a lot , and these countries were merging as ” East block ” . And USA has ideas of this that why USA is not so harass to Pakistan as it is past .

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  • mirror image
    Jan 21, 2012 - 1:28PM

    It seems Pak is like a pendulum between 2 poles USA and Russia . It is a very poor foreign strategy of Pak and will suffer in long run.

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  • Rsingh
    Jan 21, 2012 - 1:54PM

    Security situation in Pak is going from bad to worse and in such situation probably Russians would be only ones one willing to invest in Pak,so good thinking on Pak part but if Pak reneges from any decided terms then they wouldn’t mind settling things militarily.Recommend

  • Pakistani in US
    Jan 21, 2012 - 2:13PM

    @antanu g The day pakistan start building their relationship with all countries based on mutual economic goals, I’d be more than willing to shut up. But sadly we operate as a military-state (instead of nation-state) and hence make friends and enemies with that perspective (and also whoever can fill our begging bowl).

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  • Jan 21, 2012 - 2:48PM

    @BS.Detecter:

    What amuses me is Pakistanis still think neutral Countries will pick Pakistan, a state renowned for state-sponsored Terror, a state 12th most failed in the World, over India.

    Russia is India’s biggest Defence supplier. One nod from India and the Russian PM will not even make a trip to Pakistan. Russia needs the Indian defence market than a failing Country.

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Jan 21, 2012 - 3:32PM

    Pakistan must come out of US clutches and shift its foreign policy.

    Pakistanis cannot rely on US any more.

    US is a friend which has double standard. It bites like a snake (cobra).

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  • Jan 21, 2012 - 3:56PM

    We’re just looking for a rebound to help us get over america’s infidelity …once the rebound dies down we’ll be begging the US to take us back.

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  • straight-talk
    Jan 21, 2012 - 4:57PM

    This is a lot of hype but i do not see much substance in this relationship. Actually both these countries are trying to settle for something instead of nothing. Russia will definitely emerge again but it will take some time. It cannot happen overnight.

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  • Multan
    Jan 21, 2012 - 5:48PM

    Pakistan+Iran+Russia+China Wao, here is the deal, I’m sure it will happen, Hundred% good for the country PAKISTAN.

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  • Tahir
    Jan 21, 2012 - 11:38PM

    Pak’s geo-strategic location has been one of the leading reasons for the ills that we are facing today. Had Pakistan been located in a less volatile region that was free of super powers rivalries, the fate of this Country would have been quite different. Small countries which are not economically self-sufficient and where political instability is rampant, have little choices to make in the international system. In my view, Pakistan for the first time in its history seems to be making considered and thought-out strategic choices. But let’s see how do the things turn out subsequently. Perhaps, it’s a little early to give a final verdict.

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  • T Khan
    Jan 22, 2012 - 4:55AM

    @farhan aziz:
    Russia with Love is a Bond movie…there is nothing sexist or otherwise in the heading…obviously the person writing the article has more knowledge of Bond movies

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  • V K Bajaj (Delhi)
    Jan 22, 2012 - 10:01AM

    Believe that BEAUTIFUL people of BEAUTIFUL nation will employ BEAUTIFUL tools in a BEAUTIFUL manner to achieve BEAUTIFUL results and BEAUTIFUL relations.

    Khar has BEAUTIFUL Qualification and have had inherited BEAUTIFUL culture from her BEAUTIFUL parents and she will remain BEAUTIFUL toward her duty to your Beautiful Pak.

    A very beautiful idea that PAK is strengthening her relations with BEAUTIFUL Russia as there is no sense to always depend upon CHINA or USA. All countries, including India, are trying to re-locate their friendship with other countries.

    Yes Ms Khar please bring LOVE and BEAUTY from Russia and live up to expectation of all.

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  • ratee
    Jan 22, 2012 - 12:56PM

    Diversification is the best policy and this is what it will help in protecting Pakistan’s long term prospects.

    USA is and will always remain an unreliable friend its better to keep a distance from it.

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