Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan sent a message of greeting on the occasion of Russian Victory Day celebration; “Pakistan extends warm felicitations to the Government and people of the Russian Federation on Russia Day. Russia is Pakistan’s important partner. We continue to work for forging a long-term and multidimensional partnership.”
The annual Parade, which commemorates the end of World War II in Europe, is usually held on May 9 every year. Due to Pandemic, this year, the event was delayed until June 24. However, it has another significance as after winning the war and having its own Victory Day on May 9, Stalin wanted to commemorate the victory with a military parade. On June 22, 1945, he ordered: “In commemoration of the victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War, I appoint to hold the parade of the regular Army, Navy and the Moscow garrison — Victory Parade June 24, 1945, in Moscow’s Red Square.” President Putin had originally planned a major celebration, inviting world leaders from all over the world, such as French President Emmanuel Macron, Chinese President Xi Jinping. Pakistan’s President Dr. Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan have been invited for 75th Victory Day celebrations. However, due to the Pandemic, the event was reduced, and most of the world leaders could not attend the event. However, leaders of several former Soviet states were in attendance, including Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Pakistan and Russia (former the Soviet Union) established diplomatic relations on May 1, 1948. Both the countries enjoy close, friendly, and cooperative relations, and bilateral relations are marked by mutual respect, trust, and convergence of views on most international and regional issues. Pakistan aims to forge a long-term multidimensional strategic partnership with the Russian Federation in the fields of trade, energy, culture, defense, security, and people-to-people contacts. A visible warmth was witnessed in our relations in all aspects of cooperations.
Bilateral cooperation between the two countries dates back to Soviet times. Karachi Steel Mills, major thermal power facilities at Muzaffargarh, Multan-II, and Guddu Barrage, was built by the Soviet Union. Besides, the Soviet Union also helped Pakistan in the establishment of Oil and Gas Development Corporation Ltd. (OGDCL) and the development of the agriculture sector of Pakistan. Both countries have similar stakes in durable peace and stability in their common neighborhood and harbor shared aspirations for regional development and prosperity.
The upward trajectory of bilateral relations is being maintained through sustained high-level interactions and strong institutional mechanisms. Pakistan’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), as a full member, has infused new energy into our ties with the Russian Federation. Pakistan highly values the support extended by the Russian Federation during its membership process.
Prime Minister Imran Khan met with the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitri Medvedev on the sidelines of the ‘China International Import Expo’ on November 5, 2018. Besides, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi held a bilateral meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov twice in 2018. The first meeting was held in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s 73rd Session in September 2018. FM Qureshi also held talks with Russian Foreign Minister on December 26, 2018, in Moscow.
2017 was the particularly great year from the political point of view for both countries as important meetings took place, including bilateral meetings between the Prime Minister of Pakistan and the President of the Russian Federation in Astana on June 9, 2017, and Prime Ministers of both countries in Sochi on November 30, 2017. Both the meetings were held on the sidelines of high-level SCO meetings. Besides, there have been eight (08) visits from Pakistan at the ministerial levels, including Ministers from Foreign Affairs, Defence, Water & Power, Science and Technology, Industries and Production, Defence Production, Commerce and Textile and National Health Services in 2017.
Parliamentary Level Exchanges:
Bilateral exchanges at Parliamentary level have also expanded in recent times. Acting Chairman Senate Saleem Mandviwalla led a five-member delegation to the «International Conference on the Role of Parliaments in the Modern World: Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation — 25 Years on the Path of Multidimensional Parliamentary Cooperation». The conference was held on December 10, 2018, in Moscow. Senator Mushaid Hussain visited Russia in October 2018 to attend the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP).
Besides, former Speaker National Assembly of Pakistan, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, visited Russia in December 2017 to participate in the conference called «Parliamentarians Against Drugs.» Besides, former Chairman Senate of Pakistan led a 16-member delegation to the 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly in October 2017 in Saint Petersburg.
From the Russian side Chairman State Duma (lower house of Russian Parliament), Vyacheslav Volodin paid first-ever visit Pakistan in December 2017 to participate in the six-country «Regional Conference on Challenge of Terrorism and Inter-Regional Connectivity.» The Chairman of the Russian’ State Duma Committee on International Affairs’ Mr. Leonid Slutsky visited Pakistan in November 2017, during the visit he called on the Speaker National Assembly and met with the Foreign Minister of Pakistan.
10. Bilateral trade between the two countries is increasing steadily. Pakistan’s major exports to the Russian market include cotton, textiles, leather, synthetic fabrics, rice, fruits, surgical and sports goods. Our major imports include fertilizers, chemical elements and compounds, rubber, tyres and tubes, paper and paper board, iron and steel (raw and manufactured products) and machinery.
Pakistan-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) on Trade, Economic, Scientific, and Technical Cooperation is an important institutional mechanism to review the whole spectrum of bilateral cooperation and chart down the roadmap for future developments. The Inaugural Session
of the IGC was held in Moscow on September 21, 2010. The Fifth Session of the IGC was held in Moscow from 28 to November 30, 2017.
It is heartening to observe that bilateral trade between both countries is on an upward trajectory. Businessmen, importers, exporters, and investors of both the countries interested in establishing business relations with their counterparts are encouraged to contact Trade Wing for any kind of information or query. Trade Wing carries out a wide range of activities for the promotion of bilateral trade and investment relations between the two countries. The main functions of the
Energy cooperation has emerged as the most prominent feature of our bilateral relations. Russia is a leader in the global production of oil and gas, and Pakistan is a developing country with immense energy needs; hence there exist great complementarities between the two economies.
Pakistan and Russia signed an ‘Inter-Governmental Agreement on the Construction of North-South Gas Pipeline’ (NSGP) from Karachi to Lahore in October 2015. Besides, an «Inter-Governmental Agreement on Cooperation in the Sphere of Liquefied Natural Gas» (LNG) was signed between the two countries on October 13, 2017. Both sides have also signed an MoU for conducting a feasibility study on offshore gas pipeline project (September 2018) and as a follow up to this MoU the Gazprom of Russia and the Inter-State Gas Company Limited signed an MoU on a gas pipeline feasibility study regarding gas supplies from the Middle East to South Asia on February 6, 2019. Besides, a proposal for the establishment of 600 MW ‘Combined Cycle Power Plant’ (CCPP) at Jamshoro Sindh is under consideration by both sides.
Pakistan-Russia defense cooperation has steadily increased, and it is marked by frequent high-level contacts between the two countries. Under the landmark ‘Defence Cooperation Agreement’ signed during the Russian Defence Minister’s visit to Pakistan in November 2014, Russia delivered four (04) Mi-35 gunship helicopters to Pakistan. High level exchanges between the military leadership of both countries are as followed:
· Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Russia in April 2018;
· Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee visited the Russian Federation in August 2018 twice to participate in the closing ceremony of Army Games and Joint SCO military exercise «Peace Mission 2018»;
· Mr. Alexei Frolkin, the Deputy Director of the Federal Service for Military — Technical Cooperation of the Russian Federation, led a delegation to Pakistan for the ‘1st Session of Joint Russia-Pakistan Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation’ in March 2018;
· Vice Chief of Naval Staff and Pakistan Navy Ship «Aslat» visited St. Petersburg in July 2018 to participate in the Naval Parade;
· The Deputy Defence Minister of Russia Colonel General Alexander Fomin visited Pakistan in August 2018;
· Pakistan and Russia have signed an MoU on bilateral naval cooperation and training of Pakistani military personnel in Russian military institutions.
Pakistan-Russia joint military exercise titled «Friendship» has become a regular feature. In this regard, the third exercise was held in October 2018. Military-technical cooperation between Pakistan and Russia has also strengthened over the years. Besides, our militaries interact and participate in multilateral exercises under the aegis of the SCO. In this regard, noteworthy is Pakistan’s participation in the SCO member states’ Joint Military Anti-Terrorist Command Staff Exercise called «Peace Mission-2018» in August 2018 in Chelyabinsk, Russia.
Reciprocal participation of each other’s military delegations has also evolved into a regular feature of military-to-military cooperation between the two countries. Pakistan Army participated in Russia’s «Army-2018 Exhibition» in Moscow. The Russian side participated in the ‘International Defence Exhibition and Seminar’ (IDEAS) in 2019. Russia participated in a multinational naval exercise called «Aman-2019,» and it attended the 2017 edition of the same exercise as well.
Based on the convergence of interests, the relations between Pakistan and Russia are growing rapidly and will be strengthened further in the days to come.
Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan.US ready to renew START, but subject to certain conditions