How Russia came to Pakistan’s help

Published: September 18, 2017
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Russian President Vladimir Putin. PHOTO: REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Authorities sitting in the corridors of power in both Islamabad and Rawalpindi already knew that the Afghan strategy the Trump administration was crafting would target Pakistan. However, even they were not expecting Trump to single out and threaten Pakistan.

The unprecedented broadside launched by President Donald Trump in his August 21 speech left Pakistan reeling and compelled it to approach its allies in order to punch back.

One of the first countries that came to Pakistan’s aid was Russia, which expressed its reservations over the new US Afghan strategy. In addition, Moscow warned Washington that ‘putting pressure on Pakistan’ could seriously destabilise the region and result in negative consequences for Afghanistan.

Trump’s Afghan strategy: Diplomatic push yielded regional consensus: FO

A day earlier, China had issued a similar statement, but that was inevitable given its longstanding strategic ties with Pakistan.

The big takeaway from Pakistan’s diplomatic initiative was to elicit instant support from Russia, said a senior foreign office official, who gave a rare insight into how Islamabad managed to take Moscow on board.

The official, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune that Pakistan approached Russia immediately after Trump made his Afghan strategy speech.

“We informed them (Russia) through diplomatic channels that Pakistan needs their support at this critical juncture,” the official revealed.

On Pakistan request, Russia agreed to show solidarity with Islamabad. The official’s account reveals an unprecedented level of cooperation between two countries which had remained rivals at the peak of the cold war.

Afghan strategy: Trump issued statement in haste, says NA Speaker

Within two days of Trump unveiling his Afghan roadmap, Russian Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov termed Pakistan “a key regional player to negotiate with”.

Kabulov added that putting pressure [on Pakistan] may seriously destabilise the regional security situation and result in negative consequences for Afghanistan.

“This is just a start. You would see more such manoeuvres in the coming weeks,” the official said while claiming that contrary to public perception, Pakistan was not sitting idle amid the evolving regional situation.

Pakistan has already launched a diplomatic push to seek regional consensus on the Afghan endgame. For this, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif travelled to China, Iran and Turkey.

Trump’s Afghan strategy doomed to fail, says PM Abbasi

According to the foreign office spokesperson, those visits yielded ‘positive results’ as consensus had been achieved that solution to Afghan’s lingering conflict could only be found through political processes and not through the use of force.

As part of the diplomatic outreach, the foreign minister is scheduled to meet his Russian counterpart on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session this week.

Relations between Islamabad and Moscow have seen steady growth in recent years.

The two countries buried their cold war era differences and now have been recalibrated their options in view of the ever-changing geopolitical situation as well as new alignments in the region.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Ali
    Sep 18, 2017 - 10:05AM

    As they say there are no “friends in diplomacy only interests”… American can not bully its way out of Afghanistan, they broke it, let them fix it.Recommend

  • Lalit
    Sep 18, 2017 - 11:07AM

    Btw why was Khwaza Asif’s Moscow visit abandoned ? Recommend

  • Pardeep Bhanot
    Sep 18, 2017 - 11:25AM

    @Lalit:
    Because Russian Foreign Minister refused to meet Mr Asif in Moscow.Recommend

  • FAIR
    Sep 18, 2017 - 12:36PM

    The army backed governments, Madrassas and media had been hoodwinking the Pakistani public for the past 70 years to make this country to such a mess. Here is another scribe to add to their fantasies with lies like Russians going to help Pakistanis against US/Indians. India is the No.1 ally of Russia and India is the only country with whom Russians share their most advanced military secrets and technology – not even China. Not for nothing Putin never cared to visit Pakistan even once when he drops in India as and when he wants. Please understand that Russian foreign minister refused a meeting with Pakistani FM this month. They may sell a few outdated weapons and choppers but if you think they will defend Pakistan against the US – Wish you all the best.Recommend

  • Hasan
    Sep 18, 2017 - 1:46PM

    From above comments we can SEE the discomfort of our “friendly” neighbors :)Recommend

  • Raj
    Sep 18, 2017 - 2:00PM

    But why should Pakistan always have to run from pillar to post and approach countries for support? The above news clearly says, that at the request of Pakistan Russia issued a statement. This means otherwise they were not ready to issue and also they felt why should they support pakistan. But when pakistan sought specifically they had agreed. So it is not spontaneous. Any way the point here is that, pakistan is not confident enough to handle issues but needs support of everyone.Recommend

  • Faisal
    Sep 18, 2017 - 3:08PM

    @Raj:
    why are you so concerned about Pakistan’s”confidence” . Pakistan has yet again proven, like Lebanon, that it is resilient and can survive with flying colours in the world of geopolitics and strategies.
    You also know deep down that Pakistan remains a more strategic and important country to the world than India – that must hurt you and no amount of liquid ointment derived from cattle would be soothing for you! Recommend

  • Rana
    Sep 19, 2017 - 9:44AM

    @Faisal:Survival with a failed economy,begging for loan and other hand outs to fill budget deficit is not that rosy.Recommend

  • Bunny Rabbit
    Sep 19, 2017 - 11:09AM

    OIL makes strange bedfellows .Recommend

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