Pakistan, Russia relations in new phase

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Friday was told that Embassy of Pakistan, Moscow has taken a number of new initiatives besides utilizing the existing ones for further strengthening and broadening of bilateral ties with Russia.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, in a written reply said that our relations with Russia are currently going through a new phase of cordiality, friendship and increased engagement in diverse areas as a result of the framework developed through signing of various agreements/MoUs signed with Russia. A number of agreements/MoUs are in the pipeline as well.

He said that Pakistan and Russia have developed mutual understanding on important political and security issues and have institutionalized bilateral relationship through consultative mechanisms. He informed that Pakistan became a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) during the Organization’s last annual Summit held in the Russian city of Ufa in July 2015.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan, who was leading the Pakistani delegation, also met President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the SCO Summit. The two leaders reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and expressed their resolve to fast-track their cooperation in all spheres.

There have been frequent high level contacts between the two countries. Chairman Senate, Speaker National Assembly, Ministers for Finance, Defence/ Water and Power, Petroleum, Information and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs visited Russia while Chairperson of the Russian Federal Council, Russian Defence and Energy Ministers, Chief of the Russian Naval Staff and Deputy Foreign Minister visited Pakistan.

Bilateral trade and economic relations with Russia have been steadily improving over the past few years. With the concerted efforts of the Mission, the ban on import of agricultural products was lifted by Russia in February, 2014 except for potatoes. The ban was imposed by Russia in October, 2013 when potatoes exported to Russia were detected with quarantine disease “Cyst Nematodes” despite the phyto-sanitary certificates.

Agricultural products constitute one-third of our exports to Russia. He informed that Pakistan mission has been supporting participation of Pakistani companies in trade exhibitions in Russia: “Le-Show Exhibition” (leather), “World Food Moscow”, “Heimtextile Exhibition” (textile) and “Agro Salon” (auto parts exhibition) and Intercharm (beauty products). A 25-member Russian delegation participated in the defense exhibition IDEAS-2014, held in Karachi.

During Russian Energy Minister’s recent visit to Islamabad (16-17 October, 2015) an Agreement on North South Gas Pipeline project worth US$ 2 billion was signed. The 1,100 km long pipeline will be used for transportation of gas from Karachi to Lahore. Various Russian state-owned energy companies have shown interest in several energy projects in Pakistan.

He said that Pakistan-Russia military-to-military contacts at the highest level and cooperation in the field of defence have been on an upward trajectory over the last few years. Chiefs of Army and Naval Staff visited Russia in 2015 while Chief of Air Staff in August 2012.

The Russian Air Force Chief visited Pakistan in April 2013. A landmark Defence Cooperation Agreement was signed between the two countries during Russian Defence Minister’s visit to Pakistan in November 2014.  APP