Pakistan, Russia and China inch closer to formal alliance

Published: April 3, 2017


ISLAMABAD: For well over two decades, Islamabad and Moscow competed against each other to pursue their interests. But that is history now. The two are all set to become part of a possible alliance in a dramatic turnaround in their otherwise frosty relationship for decades.

What has compelled Pakistan and Russia to join hands is apprehensions that the United States may not be interested in bringing stability to Afghanistan for its own strategic interests.

These fears have now opened up the possibility of an alliance between Pakistan, Russia and China in an unprecedented development that will shape the future of this volatile region.

Interaction with military and Foreign Office officials revealed that the three countries are inching closer to formalising their relationship with an aim to bring regional stability particularly seeking a political solution to the Afghan war.

All of them who spoke off the record in order to give more candid perspective said Pakistan as well as China and Russia reached a conclusion that the US wanted to prolong the conflict in Afghanistan. This situation, officials pointed out, has left Pakistan with no other option but to seek a regional solution by involving countries such as Russia, China and Iran.

Iran hints at joining Pakistan-Russia-China alliance

Moscow already hosted two meetings involving Pakistani and Chinese officials to discuss the Afghanistan problem. Another such gathering with larger audience is also scheduled later this month. The objective of these meetings is to evolve a regional consensus for the lingering conflict in Afghanistan.

The biggest fear among the regional countries including China and Russia is the emergence of ISIS in Afghanistan. There were reports that thousands of fighters were being sent to Afghanistan from Syria, a development, Pakistan, Russia and China believe is aimed at further destabilising the war-torn country. These countries suspect that the US may be using ISIS as proxy to further its interests particularly to counter China and a resurgent Russia.

For Pakistan, this is dangerous scenario as prolonged instability in Afghanistan will continue to cast shadow on its progress and stability. “Due to these compulsions Pakistan has now reached out to Russia and other regional countries,” commented defence analyst Lt Gen (retd) Amjad Shoaib.

Gen Shoaib, who is still closely connected with the military establishment, endorsed the assessment that the US was not ready to bring stability to Afghanistan. He also claimed that Pakistan already conveyed the Trump Administration that Russia and China were coming in a big way in Afghanistan if the US does not take steps to clear the mess.

Both Russia and China have endorsed Pakistan’s stance on Afghanistan seeking an all inclusive reconciliation process. In a trilateral meeting held in Moscow in December, Russia and China agreed to a flexible approach to remove certain Taliban figures from United Nations sanctions lists as part of efforts to foster a peaceful dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban movement. This was one of the major demands of Afghan Taliban in previous round of discussions brokered by Pakistan between the insurgent groups and Kabul.

However, the US was not ready to accept it, something officials here pointed out showed Washington’s lack of interest in seeking a peace deal. In fact, Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, before being killed in a drone strike, was pushing for this demand to be accepted in order to show skeptics within the insurgent group the benefits of seeking peace process.

Russia, China favour taking Taliban off UN sanctions list

But contrary to the tough US stance, China and Russia are willing to show flexibility in a bid to give way for genuine peace efforts.

The unending Afghan problem has brought Pakistan and Russia so close that the two are now taking their ties to new heights in terms of strategic and defence cooperation. Only last week, Pakistan army took a high-powered Russian military delegation to the North Waziristan Agency (NWA) to give them the firsthand account of the country’s anti-terror gains. The development is part of a series of steps the two countries have undertaken in recent years to open a new chapter in their relationship that have long been held hostage to the politics of cold war era.

The rapprochement first began in 2011 when Islamabad had decided to broaden its foreign policy options after its relations with the US deteriorated first due to a secret raid at Abottabad to kill Osama bin Laden in May 2011 and then killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in Nato airstrikes at Salala Check post along the Afghan border.

The joint session of parliament after debating the negative fallout of the US and Nato actions approved the new foreign policy guidelines that envisaged reaching out to Russia. Unlike on other issues, there is complete consensus among the political parties as well as civil and military authorities that Pakistan must improve its ties with Russia.

“This is a realistic approach and is good for our interests,” said Gen Shoaib, who added that increased cooperation with Russia did not necessarily mean that ties between Pakistan and the US lost their utility.

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Reader Comments (24)

  • BrainBro
    Apr 3, 2017 - 9:01AM

    Saudi Arabia is forging its formal alliance with Israel, and Pakistan is warming up with Russia. How times have changed.Recommend

  • Jamal
    Apr 3, 2017 - 9:35AM

    And Pakistan is also a part of the Arab alliance, headed by KSA under American supervision. How chic. Recommend

  • MU
    Apr 3, 2017 - 10:09AM

    Great move, this will counter Indian sponsored terrorism inside Pakistan from Afghanistan and to counter the alliance between USA and India that is destabilising regional power balanceRecommend

  • salman
    Apr 3, 2017 - 10:15AM

    Checkmate to Indians here.Recommend

  • Ravian
    Apr 3, 2017 - 10:29AM

    For peace, support to fighting factions in Afghanistan will have to be removed. Pakistan will need to withdraw support to the Taliban. Recommend

  • kpsh
    Apr 3, 2017 - 11:03AM

    Nothing is going to happen. Yet modi has failed to isolate Pakistan globallyRecommend

  • Dr. Ashraf KHAN
    Apr 3, 2017 - 11:15AM

    I agreed with Gen. Shoaib that increased cooperation with Russia did not necessarily mean that ties between Pakistan and the US lost their utility.This is also an interest of Pakistan to forge alliance with Russia and China for her own security and security of region.We may like to revisit Asia Security Pact concept. Recommend

  • LOL
    Apr 3, 2017 - 11:17AM

    Modi tried his level best to isolate Pakistan. Look who is isolated now. But maybe, India is not so isolated in the region, since it has the support of superpower Afghanistan. hahahahahaRecommend

  • Sunil
    Apr 3, 2017 - 11:22AM

    Russia annexed Crimea. China annexed Tibet, occupied part of J&K, warns Taiwan from declaring independence, threatens & bullies it’s neighbours in South China sea. Pakistan has problems with all it’s neighbours, India, Afghanistan and Iran. And how peace is possible in Afghanistan. Recommend

  • Aware Citizen
    Apr 3, 2017 - 11:55AM

    All third world countries playing in the hands of Super powers through puppet rulers in each third world country.Their main intention to keep ignited conflicts,wars etc so their trillion dollars arms business keep growing. This all money matters !!!!!!!Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Apr 3, 2017 - 12:16PM

    Pakistan and US wil always be allies. And that is correc we should be friends with everyone.

    We should try to bring UK, Iran and Saudi into these discussionsRecommend

  • Oommen
    Apr 3, 2017 - 12:25PM

    Russian defence industry’s main market is India. They are not going to give free dollars like USA. Btw Turkey is back in US camp.Recommend

  • Hyder
    Apr 3, 2017 - 12:37PM

    Wasn’t someone trying to isolate us….LOLRecommend

  • Sexton
    Apr 3, 2017 - 12:40PM

    Let us think about it. At the end of the day there has been an invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq for reasons we are not really sure about. Then there was an organised coup d’etat in the Ukraine. Now there are serious problems occurring in Yemen, Syria, Palestine, the borders of Russia and North Korea. Also, we have lots of various well funded so called terrorists. From a casual observation it would seem that cooperation between sundry countries is becoming an absolute necessity. Recommend

  • Solat
    Apr 3, 2017 - 1:22PM

    Sorry Its India which has problems with Pakistan because you people have not accepted Pakistan since the partition. We had friendly relations with Afganistan before the current northern alliance regime. And Iran and Pakistan have good relations. Don’t try to see the world from Indian perspective.Recommend

  • Feroz
    Apr 3, 2017 - 3:07PM

    Pakistan wants to be part of an alliance with China and Russia in a matter that concerns an independent country Afghanistan. This is definitely its prerogative and no one need object, but interference in matters that concerns another country has its own pitfalls. If this alliance runs counter to the wishes of the Afghan people and its ally the US, why should Pakistan be milking the US for CSF. It must then ask China and Russia for funding this new adventure rather than taking American money to work against the interests of the Afghan and American people. Recommend

  • CPR
    Apr 3, 2017 - 11:09PM

    Pakistan has no support for the Taliban. That’s why, they were uprooted from the Pakistan especially South & North Waziristan where security forces couldn’t enter before though they ran and crossed Afghanistan. It was Afghanistan & U.S responsibility to seal the board but they didn’t.
    For the same reason, after clearing the land, Pakistan is asking for the border management and to seal the border.Recommend

  • numberrsnumbers
    Apr 4, 2017 - 12:50AM

    Second try!
    Pakistan somehow forgets that it undermined peace and stability in Afghanistan over the last 15 years by openly supporting the Afghan Taliban with safe havens inside FATA!
    All in search of Strategic Depth against India!
    That is why Pakistan has a crap reputation among Afghans!Recommend

  • AD
    Apr 4, 2017 - 4:59AM

    Really, this habit of counting chickens before they hatch has already created lot of issues for Pakistan,infornal alliance is understandable but formal alliance is just wishful.US and Pakistan will have an ugly divorce if it happens ever.
    Whole this problem was started to prevent Russia (USSR) in Afghanistan.So bringing everything to where it started will be very comical as Pakistan has paid a very high price for it already.Recommend

  • Sohail Gem Wazir
    Apr 4, 2017 - 7:03AM

    This alliance would bring long-lasting peace in the region. Recommend

  • Sohail Gem Wazir
    Apr 4, 2017 - 7:09AM

    Iran is our brotherly Islamic nation. And Afghanistan is USA and India puppet. So no peace with Afghanistan and India. Peace with India is conditional to resolved #Kashmir issue. Recommend

  • Sexton
    Apr 4, 2017 - 12:35PM

    Many missives criticize Pakistan rule at several levels, including economics, finance, defense, health, social aspects, and foreign relations, some of which are outside Pakistan control. Obviously, Pakistan needs to improve, but if one looks at almost every country, including the West, problems abound with no solution in sight. Pakistani people should keep up the pressure on their Government, but also keep in mind that the activities of many foreign governments indicate that their problems are increasing and will not be solved any time soon. Recommend

  • Mostly Bull
    Apr 4, 2017 - 9:55PM

    Alliance indeed….please hold your horses till the results of the investigation into the St Petersburg Metro attack…..the Great Big Bear will unleash all its cuddly love and warmth right on the land of the pure.Recommend

  • Sexton
    Apr 5, 2017 - 2:09AM

    Strange, but silly me thought a few Western countries undermined Afghanistan when they invaded about 16 years ago, and put in a puppet government.Recommend

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