Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and Russian envoy Alexey Dedov on Wednesday expressed optimism about the future of Pak-Russia bilateral relationship.
They were speaking at the International Conference on Pakistan – Russia Strategic Relations: Prospects for Cooperation.
Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua said Pakistan and Russia are having an “emerging partnership” which had “tremendous scope”. She said the growth in relations was underpinned by progressive institutional relations, summit-level exchanges, military ties, and strategic cooperation for peace in Afghanistan.
She praised Russian role in de-escalating the recent Indo-Pak crisis and its offer to mediate between the two countries.
The foreign secretary saw, “a change in the configuration of Pak-Russia relations” from Moscow’s “nuanced policy towards South Asia,” adding Russia’s policy for peace and stability in the region was balanced, she maintained.
Both Janjua and the Russian envoy mentioned the upcoming high level engagement between the two countries in Kyrgyzstan in June later this year on the side-lines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit.
Dedov said Pakistan’s membership of SCO advanced the potential of cooperation between the two countries.
Mentioning the institutional processes between the two countries, he said the high level political dialogue was contributing to the growth of ties, whereas economic cooperation was being driven by Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation. A meeting of the commission is planned for the last quarter of this year, he said.
The envoy said energy is the mainstay of Russia’s economic cooperation with Pakistan and gave an overview of the developments related to the North – South Gas pipeline. He said Russia had after the signing of inter-governmental agreement in 2015 completed its internal procedures and was waiting for Pakistani partners to complete similar measures on their side. “We are now at the stage of agreement from the implementing agency,” he said.
Mr Dedov said that unsettled issue of mutual financial obligations and lack of relations between corresponding banks was impeding economic cooperation.
President Strategic Vision Institute Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema in his presentation noted the progress made by Pakistan and Russia in their diplomatic and political relations; cooperation for peace in Afghanistan; military ties and the strategic stability dialogue.
Dr Cheema said the two countries have been negotiating military hardware sale for few years, but have made little headway so far. He said close relations between Moscow and Delhi, $5.0 bn S-400 missile system deal and 10-year lease agreement for a new Russian SSN (nuclear-powered general-purpose attack submarine) were concerning for Pakistan.
Dr Irina Serenko from Institute of Oriental Studies at Moscow’s Russian Academy of Sciences said Russia considers Pakistan as one of the major countries for the realisation of in its vision of Euro-Asian Cooperation. She said regional cooperation demands improvement in regional security situation in South Asia.
Former ambassador Arif Kamal observed Russia was exploring prospects of growth in relations with Pakistan, while keeping India engaged. He was of the opinion that policymakers in Moscow remained indecisive and vulnerable to internal debates on how and to what extent they can pursue this relationship.
Former NACTA Coordinator Hamid Ali Khan believed counter-terrorism cooperation; collaboration for resolution of Afghan conflict; and drug trafficking control can form the basis of expanded Pak-Russia relations.