A Note on Russo-Pakistan Ties (Dr.Abdul Ruff Colachal)

Submitted by abdulruff on Sun, 15/07/2007 - 20:27

A Note on Russo-Pakistan Ties

Apparently one factor seems to be common between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Pakistani counterpart, Perez Musharraf: both consolidated their powers by using their military power. While Putin crushed the Chechens fighting for independence stock and barrel, Musharraf toppled Pakistani prime-minister Sheriff who was apparently trying to dislodge General Musharraf. Besides, firmness in combating rampant corruption in these growing economies has brought respect for both Putin and Musharraf in their respective countries. Putin has the capacity to slam the USA for its interference in Russia's international affairs, where as Musharraf, pressed by domestic as well across-the-border compulsions, cannot do so, though he, better than the Indian media knows the role being played by India in the current turmoil in Pakistan.

Pakistan and Russia were in totally opposite camps during the so-called “Cold-war”. But nearly a decade into the post-Cold War era, power equations have changed worldwide, as they have in South Asia. Today, Russia can be seen to be distancing itself from India and the United States from Pakistan but Islamabad is ever-ready to negotiate with Washington to off-set the shifting scenario. Not only Pervez Musharraf, but all previous leaders of Pakistan have had tough time dealing with its foreign policy to advance its legitimate national interests against the anti-Pakistan strategies of India. It seems only Musharraf could make Pakistan a some what strong nation capable of facing challenges from across the border even while he could mend ways with USA and India’s “friend” Russia.

Both Musharraf and Putin were keen and, therefore, allowed friendship and cooperation to take roots afresh between their countries. Musharraf's Moscow visit in 2003 set in motion emerging new relations. That also opened the era of smooth functioning of ties, trying to get the relationship out of Indian shadow.. Even as economic situation improved considerably in both the countries, more in Russia, the fancy for western democracy has made life a bit difficult in both countries.( Russia's gross domestic product last year crossed US$1 trillion, with the federal government retaining a $75 billion fiscal surplus. In addition, Moscow's stabilization fund and its gold and currency reserves totaling almost $400 billion represent the world's third-largest foreign-exchange holding. Pakistan registered an economic growth rate of 7 percent in the financial year 2006-07, the fourth consecutive year of seven percent growth ) Pakistan's annual exports in 2005 amounted to $15 billion (USD), and crossed $18 billion in 2006 and $20 billion in 2007) Pakistan inked a memorandum of understanding in Moscow bringing the Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom into a planned project to build a US$3.2 billion gas pipeline from Iran to India. In Russia political parties funded by the oligarchs against the wishes of Putin, In Pakistan the corrupt politicians have adopted a case of a former chief justice involved in corruption to create anarchical situation in the country testing the patience of the General.

Though relations between Russia and India are by and large smooth involving all domains of life and culture, that has not been the case with Pakistan's ties with Russia, for, they were hampered for want of initiation and will from both side. Lucrative military trade between Russia and India prevented Russia from going for any positive relations with Islamabad. This was the position until President Putin became the Chief of the Kremlin in 2000.Putin, aimed at making Russian Presidency strong by driving Russia into a super power once again and armed by a balanced foreign policy across the globe, began promoting durable cooperation between Moscow and Islamabad . During the mutual visits by high powered persons including Putin and Musharraf there have been sincere attempts at strengthening the ties. By April 2007, the relations between Pakistan and Russia reached a stable point when they were reactivated by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, who was on a 3-day official visit to Islamabad, the first ever by the Head of Russian government.

By 2007 the relations between Islamabad and Kremlin reached a stable point with a first ever visit by Russian prime-minister Mikhail E. Fradkov to Islamabad for three days in April. Pakistan and Russia pledged to boost economic ties. Fradkov focused on ways of stepping up trade and economic links between Russia and Pakistan, "Our economic interaction is very modest, but has very serious prospects," the source said. Bilateral trade stood at $411 million last year, up from $278 million a year earlier. Fradkov stated that the volume of trade between the two countries is only 400-500 million dollars, which is very low and needs to be expanded Relations between Russia and Pakistan, frozen after Islamabad supported Afghan militants fighting Russian military intervention in Afghanistan in the 1980s, have been improving recently.

When Fradkov met with President Pervez Musharraf, both leaders expressed keenness to consolidate bilateral relations and signed two agreements, one on promoting cooperation in the fields of culture, arts, archaeology, archives and cinema and the other for increasing cooperation in combating illicit trafficking, abuse of narcotics and psychotropic substances. Mr. Fradkov, who held talks with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in Islamabad, handed over a special written message addressed to Gen. Musharraf from President Vladimir Putin. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Pakistan earlier than Fradkov and held talks with President Pervez Musharraf and his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri and discussed steps to broaden bilateral ties. Both countries have sought to narrow the political chasm that separated them since the Cold War days when the former Soviet Union had close ties with India. While Moscow retains a strategic partnership with India, it is increasingly focusing on relations with Pakistan to check the influence of radical Islam in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.

The Russian Prime Minister reciprocated the sentiments expressed by the President in terms of opening a new chapter in Pakistan-Russia bilateral relations. He said Pakistan enjoyed an important place in Russia's foreign policy and that Russia deeply appreciated Pakistan's endeavors towards peace, amity and prosperity in the region. The extensive discussions between the two leaders covered all aspects to strengthen relations between the two countries. Russia is against the weapons of mass destruction and added that Pakistan is also following the same approach. Pakistan and Russia are to fight terrorism together and the two countries agreed to activate it for expanding cooperation consultations should be on regular basis.

Under the agreement, Pakistan and Russia agreed to implement the program of cultural, educational and scientific exchanges during 2007-09. Russia and Pakistan agreed to finalize bilateral investment treaty as well as a treaty on avoiding double taxation for the benefit of investors to invest in each other's country. During the talks they also discussed energy cooperation in detail including cooperation in exploration of oil and gas reserves, mineral, coal, and assistance in hydro-electricity production as well as laying pipeline for gas and other energy resources. Pakistan and Russia agreed to promote economic diplomacy and expand cooperation in the war on terrorism and extremism. Both the sides also agreed to promote trade ties and considered to use Iran as a corridor between the two countries for this purpose. "We discussed regional issues, including Afghanistan and relations with China, India and Iran, besides ways to bring peace in Middle East by resolving the outstanding issues."

Russo-Pakistan relations have come through unfavorable circumstances in a phased manner. In a historical perspective, the first significant Soviet–Pakistan aid agreement was signed in March 1961 for the oil exploration in Pakistan. In September 1966, the Soviet Union and Pakistan concluded an agreement for economic and technical cooperation. At the time of Kosygin's visit to Pakistan in April 1968, the Soviets offered to assist in the building of a steel plant near Karachi and an atomic power plant in East Pakistan. Pravda (April 19, 1968) noted that the Soviet Union was giving aid to Pakistan for the construction of 21 large industrial undertakings. Despite a sharp deterioration in their relations following Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, Soviet economic aid to Pakistan continued.

During the 1980s, tensions increased between the Soviet Union and Pakistan because of the latter's key role in helping to organize political and material support for the Afghan rebel forces. The two sides also kept the channel of communications open. Beginning with June 1982, proximity talks between Pakistan and the Moscow–backed Kabul regime continued at Geneva, under the UN aegis, till the agreement was reached in April 1988 regarding the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. The withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan and the collapse of the former Soviet Union resulted in significantly improved bilateral relations, but Pakistan's support for and recognition of the Taliban regime in neighboring Afghanistan remained an ongoing source of tension. Following attacks in the Sept 11, 2001, Russia as a partner in US led terror war, Moscow softened its stance on Pakistan. Islamabad's move to join SCO, a regional grouping, dominated by China and Russia further cemented the ties with Moscow. SCO offered Pakistan to join Russia, China and Central Asian States to advance its national interest as well.

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Moscow is working in close coordination with two of its major allies in the region, Tehran and New Delhi, to bring Indo-Iranian trade to Central Asia via Afghanistan. Russian as well as Indian intelligence reports suggested that Pakistan harbored and trained some of the anti-Russian secessionists from Chechnya and noted Islamic militants from the Ferghana Valley in Central Asia. Weakened internally and lacking adequate leverage on Islamabad, Moscow could only watch “helplessly” and blame Pakistan. As great power, Russia must provide security to its own geographical territory and those countries that border Russia. Russia is shoring up its assets within Afghanistan to ensure smooth conduct of trade and transportation.(Jane's Defense Weekly recently reported on a $40 million helicopter deal between Russia and the Jamaat-e-Islami, the powerful faction) within the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan headed by Defense Minister Mohammad Qassim Fahim. Mostly Russia desired that Pakistan joins Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) grouping organized by China and Russia that also includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as a full member.

On assuming office President Putin was invited by Pervez Musharraf had sent invitation to to visit Pakistan. Strong foundations were expected to be laid in Putin's visit in 2000 to Pakistan for an era of mutually beneficial, relations and smooth functioning of ties. Putin hinted at a visit to Pakistan in Oct 2000 along with India. Putin had planned the trip as a way to boost Russia's profile in South Asia and East Asia, as well as securing trade and investment ties with both countries. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 Russia's presence in the Asia-Pacific region had virtually evaporated. Initially Putin was visiting only friendly countries like former Soviet-era ally Vietnam which took place in March 2, 2001.

The announcement on Sept 28, 2000 of an official visit of Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin to Pakistan in October following his sojourn in New Delhi, had taken diplomatic circles here by surprise. First, the announcement was made by Mr Putin's special envoy Sergey Vladimirovich, who was actively involved in Chechnya war strategies, during a two-day visit to Islamabad. Second, it comes barely four days before the much-awaited official visit of the Russian President to India. The timing of breaking such news has baffled both friends and foes of India. The timing has indeed raised many eyebrows. New Delhi got a shock and Islamabad was pleasantly surprised. Later on, it became clear that Putin was only using Pakistan as a powerful bargain chip to garner arms contract worth over $2 billion from India which had been eager shopping in weapons markets of Israel, USA, South Africa and UK, by-passing Russia. Followed by Musharraf's historical visit to Moscow 2003 as Putin's invited guest of honor, the Putin's visit to Islamabad was eagerly awaited only to be disappointed by Musharraf.

The new Russian administration under Putin has been busy redefining its role in the merging global order which Russia along with China is keen to shape on its own terms and based on its national priorities. In Moscow's redrawn scheme of international priorities Russo-Pakistan as well as Indo-Russian ties, had to be determined by Russia' own priorities in domestic as well as foreign affairs. Foreign policy experts in Moscow observed that sending Vladimirovich to Islamabad virtually on the eve of Mr Putin's visit to New Delhi is a clear signal of Russia's new foreign policy priorities. Meanwhile official level talks were going continuously. A Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism between Pakistan and Russia was established after a meeting held between presidents of Pakistan and Russia in June 2002.

However it took three years for Putin's Russia to get over its former pro-India mindset and reach out to its "arch-enemy" Pakistan and the turning point in Islamabad–Moscow ties came about in 2003 by Putin's invitation to General President Pervez Musharraf to visit Moscow which in turn led to a counter-invitation by Pakistan, to make it the first time in Pakistan's history that a Russian head of state would have visited Islamabad. Pakistan's elation over the Russian visit by General Musharraf has led to the official Pakistani media terming it as "historic"; "path breaking"; "history in the making" and "forward looking". In relation to Kashmir, Pakistan would be greatly elated that the Pakistani General's visit took place in the backdrop of Pakistan's celebrating of the "Kashmir Week" expressing solidarity with Kashmiri people.

Musharraf made his first ever visit to Russia in February 2003 (and it was also the first visit by a Pakistani leader for 30 years since Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in the 1970s). But n ot only Indian, but even the Russian media that used to support the Indian cause and not so confident about "useful" of Pakistani ties. The Kremlin strategists expected that t he Kremlin's Asian policy is understood to be firmly based on prioritizing ties with India and China.

Pervez discussed trade and defense ties with President Putin at the Kremlin. In 2003 President Pervez Musharraf traveled to Russia for a three-day visit, the first visit by a Pakistani president in some two decades. However, the modest results of the rare summit meeting between Russian and Pakistani leaders arguably indicate that traditional strategic partnerships are yet to commence shifting. They signed a $3bn military procurement deal. Cultural agreement includes a draft on bilateral cultural exchanges in 2003-2006.

Since the visit of President Pervez Musharraf to Moscow in February 2003, relations between the two countries began progressing in a normal speed. Talks between the two countries have been institutionalized and during the first half of this year, an Inter-governmental Joint Commission was established. The Commission accelerates the economic and technical cooperation between the two countries. Officials from both the countries reiterate that t he relations are developing "quite successfully" in diplomatic, political, economic and trade fields after the visit and are "as good as ever before and not divided by any difference or contradicting ideologies and the improvement of bilateral ties is due to leadership of both the countries. They sought cooperation in steel sector. Pakistan invited Russians to invest in the automobile sector in Pakistan saying, "we need economical and affordable cars for the common man," while at the same time check the skyrocketing automobile prices in the country especially cars, jeeps, tractors and bulldozers.

However, even the Pakistan-Russia rapprochement envisaged by presidents Pervez Musharraf and Vladimir Putin at a Moscow summit in February 2003 has not yet been fully implemented. A sense of dissatisfaction prevailed in both camps. Obvious interference from New Delhi some how was delaying a possible fruitful relationship between the two. There are certain points of disagreements between Russia and Pakistan which require more attention from both sides, need to be clarified and elaborated by the governments of the two countries as soon as possible. It is necessary to consider in a more broad and active manner (on official and academic levels) the approaches of Islamabad and Moscow towards the expansion of bilateral ties, problems of conflict resolution in the region, as well as disarmament, particularly in the nuclear sphere. It was felt that to promote bilateral economic cooperation, Pakistan should grant Russia Most Favored Nation status or consider mutually lowering tariffs. Priority should be given to bilateral economic cooperation, first and foremost in the fields of heavy industry, oil and gas, aerospace technologies, textile and agriculture.

Feeling nervous about the growing ties between Islamabad and Kremlin and angered by the "anti-India" attitude by Russia, the main supplier of its weapon systems and other equipment, New Delhi shouted from the rooftop that the trip of Musharraf to Moscow was a failure, and a number of Russian commentators, who saw no tangible results from the trip, concurred. The Pakistani General's Russian visit may be path breaking in Pakistani perceptions, but a "terrible" exercise for India. India is conscious of the historic baggage that blights radical developments in Pak-Russia relationships.

India seems to be confident that today it is in a unique position where her power potential in the coming decade cannot be dismissed lightly by Russia, not even by USA, both politically and strategically. New Delhi also expected then the ongoing rapprochement could even develop positively to India's advantage, if Russians succeed in converting Pakistan into a responsible actor in South Asia instead of being a "spoiler state". In order to further the interests of, both Russia and Pakistan were expected to plan their future strategy very carefully.

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In Islamabad in Feb 2004, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar in a meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Safonov emphasized that Pakistan was committed to cooperating with Russia in the campaign against international terrorism, it was officially announced here. The Russian official reportedly said that the war against international terrorism could be won when the root causes of terrorism like poverty, regional conflicts, systematic injustices and problems related to globalization were resolved. Safonov said that the visit of President Pervez Musharraf to Moscow last year was a historic milestone in bilateral relations which are expanding since then, the statement added. The Pakistani foreign secretary expressed Pakistan’s desire for a early expansion in the Pakistan Steel Mill. He also renewed President General Pervez Musharraf’s invitation to President Vladimir Putin to visit Pakistan at the earliest. During his stay in Islamabad, Safonov will reportedly meet interior secretary and rector of the Islamic University. He will also visit the National Defense College and National Police Academy. The two sides discussed bilateral ties, Pakistan-India relations, counter-terrorism measures taken by both, the menace of drug trafficking and other issues of regional and international importance were discussed during the meeting, a Foreign Office statement said. A group of experts visited Moscow in March, 2004 to prepare for the inaugural session of the Inter-governmental Joint Commission’s meeting. In Dec 2004, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak The Russian minister was in Pakistan to attend the second session of the Pakistan-Russian Consultative Group on strategic stability. Pakistan's relations with Russia have witnessed a qualitative improvement and there has been a greater understanding of Pakistan's policies at the highest level in Russia since a visit by President Pervez Musharraf to Russia in February 2003.

"I think bilateral (Pakistan-Russia) relations are good, we have diplomatic and political understanding between our countries," Gen Musharraf said on 07 June 2006 in an interview with Russian news agency ITAR-TASS Moscow. "There is a mutuality of interest in this region between Russia and Pakistan." Islamabad enjoys influence in Central Asia, a region with which Pakistan has historical and cultural bonds and wants to expand trade, commercial and economic ties with, Pervez insists. By becoming a full member of SCO, Russo-Pakistan ties would further expand and diversify. He also pointed to the large Muslim population in Russia, which is looking for observer status at the Organization of Islamic Conference, and described this as another area of common interest between Pakistan and Russia.

Identifying prospective areas of trade and economic cooperation, Musharraf said Pakistan's large textile sector could export products to Russia. Secondly, Pakistan's oil and gas sector should be of interest to Russia, he added. In defense, he said, Pakistan is interested in purchases from Russia, and added that in this area Russia "should also not have an Indo-centric approach to Pakistan". Pakistan is eager to reinvigorate relations with Russia and expand bilateral relations in all fields particularly defense and communications. The nature of Russian relations with CIS states and its impact on Pakistan is important to observe. Pakistan is interested in strengthening ties with CIS for economic cooperation.

In Nov 2006, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Pakistan. He said: we are ready to broaden and diversify mutually advantageous cooperation with Pakistan, a country playing a significant role both in the region and in the Islamic world as a whole. In this context, he pointed out that they had agreed to promptly promote the launching of the mechanism of Inter-governmental Commission on Trade, Economic and Scientific Cooperation for early implementation of projects already agreed upon between the two sides. Kasuri pointed to the "excellent opportunities for joint collaboration" that existed in upstream and downstream projects in oil and gas sectors; expansion of railways; and construction of coal thermal and hydel power generating stations. Mr Kasuri welcomed Russia's strong political and economic interest in Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline project. Kasuri, expressing satisfaction at the steady growth in the multi-dimensional relationship with Russia, stated: "We consider Russia as an engine for increased economic growth and a factor of peace and stability in the SCO region." He pointed out that bilateral trade between Pakistan and Russia had more than doubled last year to over $500 million.) Both sides discussed the possibilities of developing rail links with Iran and other areas in the SCO region from Pakistan; rail links to Central Asia from Gwadar and Russia has shown some interest in this area; energy cooperation in detail including cooperation in exploration of oil and gas reserves, mineral, coal, and assistance in hydro-electricity production as well as laying pipeline for gas and other energy resources. The Prime Minister of Pakistan said they discussed the possibility of using Iran as transit corridor between Russia and Pakistan to shorten the time taken for the movement of goods between the two countries. Pakistan could benefit from Russia to equip its Railway with new signal and rolling stock.

Some Observasions

A few questions arose in the minds of the analysts on emerging Russo-Pakistan ties. They argued that Russia's South Asia policy was under-going change in response to the trend of a more proximate strategic partnership between USA and India (Russia’s major weapon consumer) emerging, and Russia looker for wider markets for the sale of its military equipment, and Russia's invitation motivated by United States prodding to assist Pakistan in getting a dialogue opened with India in view of close relations in the past. The Indian public opinion is molded today by the media heavily against any dialogue with Pakistan because of Pakistan's so-called "unwarranted proxy war". India watches the progress in Pak-Russian relations impatiently, because if that bond gets strengthened, India would be put in tight spot, losing its bargaining power with Russia much more.

In Kremlin's new policy, of course, Pakistan is not one of the focus areas, mainly because as a major non-NATO ally Pakistan is assured of all necessary latest military support by the US-NATO and as such it needs not to look upon Russia for weapons systems that India procures regularly for targeting Pakistan. Other areas of cooperation in economic and cultural fields would continue whether India likes it not. India, however, uses US card with Russia and Russia card with USA when negotiating deals. Use of India card by the USA with Pakistan has very limited use, as also the same p tactic by Russia with Pakistan. Russia wants to play its own role in South Asia and Middle East.
Pakistan's foreign policy is being re-oriented, with a greater focus on South Asian region.

Putin's recent trip to Middle East has been used by Kremlin to comfort Pakistan as well as Central Asian states about its positive intentions for the Islamic world. Meanwhile, India has successfully coerced Moscow to pressure Pakistan to concede to Indian project of Iran-India oil pipe line. Besides, Kremlin has also achieved a major foreign policy success by making Pakistan to leave the Chechnya issue to Moscow for resolution.

Pakistan and Russia have come to realize that they need each other. They need each other to maintain stability in the highly volatile region in which they live. Pakistan, though not a major economic power, has close ties with both China and the US. Pakistan is also in the middle of the war against terrorism - in fact, Pakistan holds many potentially critical cards in this key battle. After sitting on the fence for decades, Moscow, it seems, has finally come to realize the necessity of bringing Pakistan into the circle of nations with whom Russia must open a dialogue for restoring and maintaining regional security.

Russian Federation's Consul General in Karachi Vladimir P Mikhaylov observed that the positions of Russian Federation and Pakistan on some major international problems like Iraq and Middle East are "very close. Both have regular consultations on various issues including struggle against terrorism, narcotics WMD", However, he felt that volume of bilateral trade and economic cooperation does not correspond to the potential between both countries. At the same time "we do not have much military cooperation with Pakistan and it would take time to materialize". Many Russian companies were satisfied with Pakistan government's policies in oil and gas sectors. Pakistan had organized the first ever solo Pakistan exhibition in St. Petersburg in early September 2004.

It is being felt that there should be more exchange of information on a people-to-people basis. This could be achieved with academic and media exchanges. The creation of a new dimension of the regional system of international relations including the Central Asian Republics, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia and China is visibly underway. The fruitful development of bilateral relations between Russia and Pakistan determine the necessity of dealing with regional problems in that format.

The present level of Pakistan-Russia relations does not meet the existing favorable opportunities for interaction between the two countries. Moscow and Islamabad are expected to undertake certain vigorous efforts to push mutual cooperation forward.
There is a commonality of views between the two countries on major strategic international issues such as support for the concept of a multi-polar world and the supremacy of the UN; unacceptability of unilateral actions to change the current international system through the use of force; struggle against terrorism and combating illegal narcotics production and the trafficking of human beings; strengthening of nuclear non-proliferation; and pushing forward processes of regional cooperation.

Pakistan emphasized the need to develop an institutional framework in multidimensional fields. Pakistan and Russia firmly share the view that the UN should be strengthened and reformed. A new era of friendship between Pakistan and Russia is emerging, he noted, as both are members of the coalition against terrorism and both are victims of terrorism. to concentrate on bilateral economic relations and cooperate to counter terrorism, drug production and trafficking and nuclear non-proliferation.

The US military presence in neighboring states like Uzbekistan and Tajikistan does not comfort Russia. Moscow has beefed up its relations with China, Iran and Afghanistan - and the invitation to Musharraf was part of this deliberate push to enhance the circle of nations in the region with whom it maintains positive communication. Moscow wants to retain and expand its clout in a friendlier regional environment, and improved relations with Pakistan would be a major political plus. Putin likely conveyed to Musharraf that Russia is aware of the developments in the region and is preparing for the eventual departure of the Americans and their allies.

Moscow is also fully aware of Islamabad's political and religious compulsions. Pakistan's closeness to China is yet another factor that Russia takes seriously. Significantly, China welcomed Musharraf's visit to Moscow and hoped that it would further help peace and development in the region. When asked to comment on the visit, a spokesperson of the Chinese government said that Pakistan and Russia are both friendly neighbors of China.

It has been nearly two decades since a Pakistani president visited Moscow - itself an indicator that this was no ordinary meeting. And these two decades were particularly tumultuous for the region that is of vital concern to both nations. During this period the erstwhile Soviet Union's army was defeated and left Afghanistan in disgrace. During this period the Soviet Union as a nation came to an end, and today consists of 16 sovereign states, six of them Muslim-majority states.

And during this period, the Muslim-majority Central Asian nations emerged and began developing their own foreign policy to engage the major nations of the region - Russia, India and China - as well as the US, in building their future.

Throughout the entirety of these two definitive decades, Russia-Pakistan relations remained frozen in a state of inactive hostility. In Russian eyes, Pakistan was just another unruly and unreliable Muslim nation that was not only close to the US and China, but also tended to define itself by its enmity toward Russia's natural ally, India. From the Pakistani viewpoint, Russia was a diminished power committed wholly to friendship with India. Islamabad has always considered Moscow to be completely biased on the India-Pakistan issue and, therefore, not worth courting seriously.

Of course, Russia-Pakistan relations cannot really take off while the India-Pakistan relationship remains stormy. Surely Moscow realizes that the India factor impinges on both sides of the relationship. And Pakistan's objective, as was evident from Musharraf's approach in Moscow, is to see that Russia establishes a "balance" in ties with India and Pakistan. Putin's projection of Russia as an honest broker friendly to both, rather than a country with a tilt toward one side, was a big step forward.

Thus what is seen today are the obvious gains of Russia's new foreign policy. Pragmatism and flexible maneuvering bring much better results than Yeltsin's neo-imperial style with its claims to the role of a great power and utter helplessness of its attempts to have at least some influence in the modern world. Russia got Musharraf's endorsement of Moscow's position on Chechnya. Thus, when in Moscow, General Pervez Musharraf, , offered Russia to expand cooperation in various spheres, and also recognized that Chechnya was Russia's internal affair. Pakistan may have failed to clinch lucrative business and economic deals during the trip, but that the meeting was held at all suggests that Pakistan and Russia have come to realize that they need each other.

The political war being waged by the opposition parties in Pakistan for quite some time to oust Musharraf might not stop him from advancing the legitimate interests of Pakistan by expanding economic and security ties with Russia, along side its stable US friendship. USA preferred to support the Musharraf regime to Putin's, because Musharraf does snot have any hidden agenda for invading his neighbors and also because of India's continuous bullying of Islamabad. With a view to placating both the USA and India, Putin had time again voiced his “concern” about the so-called Islamic fundamentalist terrorism and India supported Moscow's Chechnya position in exchange for Russia s' support for Indian case for Kashmir. Pakistan supported Afghan fighters against occupation forces from Soviet Union. Afghanistan experience was terrible for Russia.

One hopes that the relationships between Islamabad and Moscow grow from strength to strength.

Thank You
Yours Sincerely,
DR.ABDUL RUFF Colachal
New Delhi

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Exposing the anti-Islamic western media propaganda is more difficult than dealing with their terrorism plank supported by others for national interests.
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This is from : *****
Dr.Abdul Ruff Colachal
Research Scholar
School of International studies
Jawaharlal Nehru University
Newdelhi-110067.
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>>>>Against Anti-Islamism and anti-Muslimism>>>

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