Pakistan–Russia Relations [1 of 5]

Relations between Pakistan and the Russian Federation were reactivated in 2007 after the 3-day official visit of Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov.
He was the first Russian prime minister to visit Pakistan in the post Soviet-era in 38 years. He had “in-depth discussions” with then President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.
The major focus of the visit was to improve bilateral relations with particular emphasis on ways and means to enhance economic cooperation between the two countries. [Image: Russian president Dmitry Medvedev engaged in conversation with his Pakistani counterpart president Asif Zardari, 2010].






Pakistan–Russian relations refer to the bilateral, historical, cultural, and international relations between the State of Pakistan and the Russian Federation. Pakistan and the Russian Federation first established the diplomatic and bilateral relations on 1 May 1948. [1]

For the most of the Cold War, Pakistan’s relations with then Soviet Union saw many ups and downs during different periods of Pakistan’s post indepndence history. During the 1947-50s Soviet Union enjoyed relatively healthy and strong relations with Pakistan when it had civilian governments. The relations, however, went ultimately cold soon after the U.S.-backed 1958 military coup d’état was staged by Gen Ayub Khan, the Commander in Chief of Pakistan’s armed forces, although attempts to warm the relations were made after the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war and in midst of 1970s, the relations were quickly improved and warmed.

In the late 1980s, Pakistan allied with the United States and Saudi Arabia to support the Mujahideen rebels during Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.


Soviet relations with Pakistan date back to 1922 after the Bolshevik Revolution of Oct.1918. From 1922-27, people who entered from Soviet Union into Pakistani territory then held by British Indian Empire, attempted to start a communist revolution against the British Empire. The series of coups known as Peshawar Conspiracy Cases; the British Empire was terrified after the intelligence on attempted communist revolution in India were revealed to authorities.

From 1947-50 and 1965–69, the trade, educational, and cultural exchanges between two countries increased. But the Soviet efforts were undermined by Soviet Union herself when Soviet criticism of Pakistan’s position in the 1971 war with India weakened bilateral relations, and many people in Pakistan believed that the August 1971 Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Peace and Cooperation encouraged India to invade East Pakistan. Subsequent Soviet arms sales to India, amounting to billions of dollars on concessional terms, reinforced this argument. The USSR also kept vetoing every resolution on the East Pakistan situation whenever Pakistan brought the matter to the United Nations.

Shashlik, originally a Russo Pakistani dish is a form of Shish kebab which, by the passage of time has gained popularity in many other parts of the world. 
Shashlik (meaning skewered meat) was originally made of lamb but can be replaced by other meats depending upon local preferences and religious observances.
The skewers of meat are either all meat, all fat, or alternating pieces of meat, fat, and vegetables such as bell pepper, onion, mushroom and tomato.


In 1948 Moscow directed a farewell message to then-Prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan. Pakistan had come on world map during the penultimate times of cold war, and the Soviet influence on neighbouring Imperial Iran had deepened.

Russian military involvement in Afghanistan, another neighbouring country of Pakistan has had a long history, going back to Tsarist times in the so-called “Great Game” between Russia and Great Britain. [2]

“ Pakistan cannot afford to wait. She must take her friends where she finds them…! ” —Liaquat Ali Khan calling the Soviet Union and China. [3]

According to the studies conducted by the Institute of Strategic Studies (ISS), the Soviet Union did not welcome the Indian partition, fluctuating from cool to antagonistic and hostile relations for the new state. [2] Moscow vehemently had criticised the United Kingdom on partitioning the region, calling it as the “Divide and Rule” stratagem of the foreign policy of Great Britain, and had earlier also labeled Muslim League as a tool of the British.

From its very inception [2] Russian leader Joseph Stalin and the officials in Moscow did not send any congratulatory message to Governor-General Jinnah— founder of Pakistan. [2] Rather the Soviet Union extended such relations after the death of Jinnah, and sent the invitation to Prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan on April 1948. [2]

During the turbulent period of partition in 1947, Soviet Union remained neutral and had a non-committal attitude, while the Western countries supported Pakistan to take the Kashmir dispute to the United Nations Security Council. [2] The Status quo was more acceptable to India, but not to Pakistan, but Moscow’s initial influence in this regard led it to vote in favor of India in 1947. [2]

During 1947-53, Pakistan was a member of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and was facing the challenging issues involving economic default, internal unrest, challenges in foreign policy, constitutional crises, and the problems in the Constituent Assembly particularly after the death of Jinnah. [2] Pakistan, then in its initial stages of development waited to see if any nation was willing to help the country to re-build through massive military and economical aid, as was revealed by a prominent leader of the Muslim League at that time, late Sir Firoze Khan Noon. So said Noon:

If the Hindus give (us) Pakistan, then the Hindus are our best friends. If the British give it to us then the Brits are our best friends. If neither will give us our freedom….. Then Russia is our best friend…. —Firoze Ali Khan Noon, 1946, source [4]

In April 1948, at the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Far East, Pakistan’s foreign officers announced that “she (Pakistan) would accept aid from any source”, but the Soviets did not respond to that request. [2] In 1948, Prime minister Ali Khan made several attempts to Soviet Union to establish the relations, but Soviets remained quiet.

Pakistan – Russia Friendship Commemorative Postage Stamp June 10, 2011.
Diplomatic relations between Pakistan and USSR were established on May 1, 1948 through the agreement concluded in New York by Sir Zafrulla Khan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, and Andrei A. Gromykok, the First Deputy Foreign Minister of USSR.
This agreement was succeeded by a consequent exchange of the relevant notes. Shortly thereafter the Embassies of the USSR and Pakistan commenced their functioning.

On April 1948, Pakistan’s foreign minister Sir Zafarullah Khan held talks with Deputy Foreign minister Andrei Gromyko, subjecting the diplomatic relation. [5] During that time, Pakistan saw relations with the Soviet Union from the prism of her relations with India just as these days it sees ties with the United States. [5]

“ There is important divergence of outlooks between those of Pakistan [with its Islamic background], and the Soviet Union [with its background of Marxism which is atheistic in approach]…. Pakistan had noticed the subservience which was forced upon the allies of the Soviet Union… Furthermore, there was the question whether Russia could supply the aid, both material and technical, which Pakistan so urgently needed…” —Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, 1950. [5]

However, the policy was changed after Soviet Union witnessed two events particularly forcing them to respond more to Pakistan when India decided to remain within the Commonwealth of Nations. It was a clear sign that India was leaning nmore towards the West which even then was under the strong influence of the United States. [5]

The second event was Indian premier Jawaharlal Nehru’s announcement to proceed on a state visit to the United States on May 7, 1949. Reacting to this initiative by Indian leadership, the Soviet Union extended an invitation to Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, in 1949 to visit Moscow, thus to become the first prime minister from the Commonwealth of Nations to visit the world’s leading communist state, but ironically the Soviet Union herself did not finalize the dates or the plans. [5] Consequently Pakistani prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan went on to the US on a state visit, taking the largest diplomatic and military convey with him – a clear rebuff to Soviet Union. [5]

According to studies completed by the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA), the real motives, goals and objectives, were to get economic and technical assistance. “There are important divergences of outlook between Pakistan, with its Islamic background, and the Soviet Union with its background of Marxism which is atheistic….Pakistan had noticed the subservience which was forced upon allies of the Soviet Union… Furthermore, there was the question whether Russia could supply the aid, both material and technical, which Pakistan so urgently needed…” PIIA noted. [5]

The relations suffered further setback when members of Pakistan Communist Party led by poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz, and sponsored by Major-General Akbar Khan, hatched a coup d’état against Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan in 1950 (See Rawalpindi conspiracy case). [5] Just three years after the unsuccessful coup attempt, prime minister Liaqat Ali Khan when he was campaigning for his electoral term was assassinated in Rawalpindi. Subsequently during 1954-58, and as the time passed the relations were strained and hostility against each other gained momentum. In 1954, Pakistan became a member of the SEATO and in 1955 of CENTO, which Soviet Union did not welcome, and overtly opted a Pro-Indian policy especially with respect to Kashmir as an integral part of India. [2]

Left: The border of British India (now Pakistan’s border) showing the Russian Empire neighboring with Pakistan.

After 1954-55 elections in Pakistan, prime minister Huseyn Suhrawardy, a left-leaning politician, made deliberate attempts to improve relations with the USSR. On March–April 1954, a delegation of the Soviet cultural troupe toured Pakistan and a festival of the Soviet films was held in Karachi. [2] To reciprocate this, the Pakistani Government also sent a delegation to study the Soviet industrial and agricultural development.

In 1956, Soviet premier Nikolai Bulganin offered technical and scientific assistance to prime minister Suhrawardy for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, offering Soviet contribution to Pakistan after the Pakistani premier had submitted a plan to establish the nuclear deterrence against India. In 1958, Soviet Union agreed to provide Pakistan a handful of aid in agriculture, economic assistance, and in diverse fields such as science, control of pest, flood control, desalination, soil erosion and technical assistance. [2]

In 1958, Pakistan and Soviet Union finally established an oil consortium, Pakistan Oilfields, and expressing interests in establishing the country’s first steel mills. [2]


Next:  Finding New Friends, New Foes

Pages   1   2   3   4   5

Related Posts:

1. Pakistan can make Russia Queen of Asia 2. 2. Russia – Pakistan: the Way is Open for New Projects 3.  Pak–Russia Relations 4. After US, now Chinese bases in Pakistan!
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