ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif has left for Moscow Monday for a more enhanced bilateral coordination, foreign and defence experts believe the growing relationship between the two sides is key to peace, security and stability in the region when the United States insists on military option in Afghanistan.
Political commentators believed that the cold war era rivals are now heading towards a new realignment in the region as both countries and important regional players are directly affected by the instability in Afghanistan and need to have come up with a unanimous approach to support a political solution to the Afghan conflict.
The emergence of the so called Islamic State (IS), or Daesh, in the region has further complicated the situation in the war ravaged Afghanistan as the militant group is also seen as a destabilising factor for regional nations.
Senior defence expert Said Nazir Mohmand argued that there are several factors that have brought Pakistan and Russia closer, including US quest for longer presence and continuation of war in Afghanistan, and US President Donald Trump's aggressive posture against Pakistan.
"President Trump has now publicly ruled out talks with the Taliban which means the US intends to keep troops for long time and to keep on continuing war. This approach is a worrisome development for all regional countries, including Pakistan and Russia, which oppose military solution and emphasise on political solution," Mohmand told.
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He said the growing threat of the IS in Afghanistan, especially its activities in northern parts of Afghanistan, is a matter of serious concern for Russia as the group could create problems for the Central Asian states as well as Russia.
"As the US has adopted a hostile attitude towards Pakistan, the country will try to find out more trusted friends in its neighbor and the region. It is diplomatic principle and power game to search for more friends," he said.
Besides political cooperation, Pakistan and Russia have increased relations in defence and economic fields. They conducted joint military exercises in 2016 for the first time since they have established diplomatic relations and also similar drill in 2017. Russia had also delivered four advanced attack gunships last year.
In October 2015, Pakistan and Russia had inked an agreement to build a 2 billion US dollar pipeline that will transport gas from the city of Karachi in southern Sindh to Lahore in the central Punjab.
Foreign affairs expert Ayaz Wazir said Pakistan's enhanced relationship with Russia is important in the wake of deterioration of relations between Pakistan and the United States as Washington has almost given up Pakistan despite its unmatched sacrifices in the war against terrorism.
"In such a situation Pakistan will have other friends and Russia is one of the possible allies. Pakistan and Russia have similar objectives and that is peace and stability in Afghanistan and to promote political process and reconciliation," Wazir, who served as Pakistan's ambassador to Qatar and Counsel General in Afghanistan's Mazar e Sharif, told.
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He pointed out that Pakistan and Russia have not only joined hands to work for stability in Afghanistan but they are also partners to counter the threat of the IS in the region.
"I foresee the threat of Daesh could further increase in Afghanistan and the region. Daesh posses threats to Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Central Asia and Russia and cooperation between Pakistan and Russia is required to check the emerging threat," he said.
Pakistan and Russia insist they give priority to relationship in their foreign policy.
"Today, we can state that cooperation with Pakistan features prominently on the list of Russia's foreign policy priorities," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said last week in Moscow. For its part, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal said that Russia enjoys a special place in foreign policy.
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