Pakistan to be first stop of Putin’s world trip

Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin after taking office, while on his first foreign tour, makes Pakistan his frist stop. It symbolizes not just Pakistan’s importance in the region, but the shift in relations which means that the two countries, kept apart for so many years because of Russia’s espousal of Communism, are trying to come together. To seek a substitute for India, now in the American lap, after the collapse of the USSR, Russia wants a new ally in the region. Mr Putin’s visit shows that Russia intends to play a more proactive role in world affairs. It must do so, because by ceding to US supremacy, it has seen itself not just the physical invasion of Afghanistan, but also US is now threatening Iran and putting Russia’s own security interests un the region at stake.
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SEEKING NEW ALLIES

NEW FRIENDS

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Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin will, [on his first foreign tour after taking office], make his first stop in Pakistan. It symbolizes not just Pakistan’s importance in the region, but the shift in relations which means that the two countries, kept apart for so many years because of Russia’s espousal of Communism, are trying to come together.

To seek a substitute for India, now in the American lap, after the collapse of the USSR, Russia wants a new ally in the region. Mr Putin’s visit shows that Russia intends to play a more proactive role in world affairs. It must do so, because by ceding to US supremacy, it has seen itself  not just the physical invasion of Afghanistan, but also US now threatens Iran. Russia feels also its own physical space threatened by the US expansionism, while the expansion of Nato threatens it in the West, the snatching away of India and the occupation of Afghanistan threatening it in Asia.

Putin’s visit is a result of the successful visits to Russia by President Asif Zardari, in August 2010 for the Quadrilateral Summit, and by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar earlier this year.

Russia had previously tried to make headway in Pakistan through the Steel Mills project, and now it has offered to be involved in the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project. This is an offer that Pakistan must not hesitate to take up. While Pakistan’s official ‘ally’ has done its best to sabotage the project, and has insisted India withdraw from it, Russia is extending a helping hand.

Unlike the steel mills, the pipeline from Iran is existential, providing as it will, gas not just for domestic and industrial users, but also for power production. Thus not just the strategic concerns, but national interest should incline Pakistan towards Russia. However, as strategic concerns include Afghanistan, which Russia has been deeply interested in for a very long time, Russia would also be interested in how Pakistan sees the future of Afghanistan.

It should also be recognized that Russia has a deep interest in the reset in relations between the USA and Pakistan that is presently being discussed by the joint sitting of Parliament. Russia too has seen that the US has not just gained access to South Asia through Pakistan, but also Central Asia. As Russia is seeking an ally in the region to substitute for India, and as Pakistan is distanced from the USA, Russia is naturally more interested in Pakistan than ever before. President Putin’s visit, the first ever by a Russian President to Pakistan, reflects that.

Source, Cross posted, Title image
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