Welcoming Putin to Pakistan

Kayani’s recent visit to Russia was a welcome move but this new chapter shouldn't sabotage American relations.

Azam Khan September 24, 2012
Vladimir Putin, a former spymaster, known for his political struggle and his contribution to the uplift of his country after its disintegration in 1991, has been the president of Russia since May 7, 2012. Previously, Putin served as president from 2000 to 2008 and as prime minister from 1999 to 2000 and from 2008 to 2012.

The Russian president is scheduled to visit Pakistan in the first week of October and this is a welcome shift in our country’s foreign policy. It is high time Pakistan develops cordial relations with other countries of the world to overcome its multiple challenges.

While history proved that it was a mistake for our mighty military establishment to put all of its eggs in one basket since Pakistan’s independence, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s recent visit to Russia was a welcome move. The new chapter of mutual relations with Russia should not be at the cost of American relations though. Islamabad should create a balance between Washington and Moscow. The same rule should apply in the cases of Riyadh and Tehran. There is also a need to revisit our relations with Iran, India and Afghanistan, particularly keeping in view our economic interests. Our defence is not weak because we have fewer weapons today. Our state is crumbling because of illiteracy, poverty, unemployment and economic degradation.

Still, our parliament has little say in the formulation of foreign policy. It has been proven during the last four-and-a-half years of democratic order that parliament has become only a platform to deliver speeches and pass resolutions, as strict judicial oversight and non-debatable sensitive security issues further narrowed its functions.

We do not hear news that our prime minister will visit Australia next month or that our president will visit New Zealand. Perhaps, our decision-makers have little time to find avenues from the Central Asian region, utilising the strength of over one billion-plus population of South Asia. As a precaution, we should not indulge in internal disputes of any country, including Afghanistan. Putin may be controversial at home, but for us he is still the president of Russia.

Besides state level relations, we should also encourage track two and track three diplomacy so that people-to-people contacts further strengthen mutual relations.

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Azam Khan The writer is an Islamabad-based journalist and works for The Express Tribune
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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