Russian President Vladimir Putin will travel to Pakistan this October, the first-ever trip by any head of state from Russia, indicating an improvement in ties between the former cold-war rivals.
A Foreign Office official confirmed that the Russian president will be arriving in Islamabad during the second week of October as part of an effort by the two countries to move beyond their past.
The official also told The Express Tribune that Putin will meet with the country’s civil and military leaderships and attend a quadrilateral summit.
The formal invitation for the trip was extended by President Asif Ali Zardari following the Russian leader’s election in March.
The fourth of its kind, the summit will also be attended by leaders from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, the official added, and will focus on regional issues with particular emphasis on the Afghan endgame. The last meeting was held in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, in 2011, where the four nations urged the US-led Nato forces to step up the training of local security forces before they pull out of Afghanistan.
Russia has voiced concerns on the future of Afghanistan once the US-led coalition withdraws from the war-torn country and Islamabad shares Moscow’s worries about the future of its neighbour. Both countries have expressed serious apprehension that the situation in Afghanistan may slip into a civil war due to the lack of clear roadmap for future political dispensation.
Relations between Pakistan and Russia, who remained bitter rivals for decades, have improved in recent years as the two countries have attempted to open a new chapter in their otherwise frosty relationship.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2012.