Pakistan–Russia relations [2 of 5]

In 1974, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto paid a tiring and lengthy state visit to Soviet Union, becoming the first prime minister since the independence of Pakistan in 1947. Bhutto and his delegation was met with great jubilation, a warm-hearted celebration took place after Bhutto was received by Alexei Kosygin in Moscow. The honorary guard of honor was offered by the Soviet Armed Forces, and a strong interaction took place between the two coutries during Bhutto’s democratic era.




In July 1957, prime minister Suhrawardy approved the leasing of a secret ISI installation, near the Peshawar Air Base to the CIA. [6] After having staged the military coup d’état against President Iskander Mirza, Army Commander Ayub Khan visited the United States, thus further enhancing relations with the U.S., while at the same time, tried establishing link with the Soviet Union through Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. [6]

“Pakistan felt deceived because the U.S. had kept her in the dark about such clandestine spy operations launched from Pakistan’s territory” —General K.M. Arif, Chief of Army Staff. [7]

In 1959, Ayub Khan permitted the reconnaissance flights and covert surveillance flights of U-2, giving the authorization of final U-2 flight, piloted by USAF Captain Francis Gary Powers. This operation ended violently when Soviet Air Defence Forces shot down the U-2, capturing its pilot in the Soviet air space.

Overall, Ayub Khan knew of this operation, understanding the consequences and the aftermath, and shuddered his shoulders when he was notified in London, by the USAF and the CIA. [8]

The U-2 incident severely compromised Pakistan security and worsened relations between the Soviet Union and Pakistan, with Soviets now backing India.[8] During this time, the Indian nuclear programme expanded and progressed at very exponential level.[8] As an attempt to put up a bold front, former chief of army staff General Khalid Mahmud Arif while commenting on the incident stated that, “Pakistan felt deceived because the U.S. had kept her in the dark about such clandestine spy operations launched from Pakistan’s territory”.[8]

A great Soviet ire was on Pakistan, so the Soviets threatened to bomb the base if future missions were flown from it. [8] Soviet Union further paid back its revenge on Pakistan during Indo-Pakistani war of 1965, when it emerged as the biggest supplier of military hardware to India. [9] India too, had now, distanced herself from the Western block countries, developing close relations with the Soviet Union. [9] Together the Soviet Union and India used the diplomacy, convincing the U.S. and Western powers to keep a ban on Pakistan’s military and hardware. [10] After the 1965 war, the arms race between India and Pakistan became even more asymmetric and India was outdistancing Pakistan with a big margin. [11]


The Soviet Union had far more better relations with East-Pakistan, and had strong ties with the Communist Party in Pakistan’s eastern wing after successfully staging the protest to give national recognition toBengali language as compared to Urdu in the 1956 constitution. [12] The Communist Party played also its role to ensure complete elimination of Pakistan Muslim League once and for all, in the eastern wing leading to the collapse of federal government led by Pakistan Muslim League at the centre. [12]

The tendency towards democracy and the Anti-American sentiment was much greater in East-Pakistan, and this highly benefited the Soviet Union in 1971. [7] When the mutual defence treaty was signed, it was followed by the arrival of US military advisers from the MAAG group, which was announced in February 1954. As a result there was great outcry in East-Pakistan. Many demonstrations led by the communist party were held and the 162 newly elected members of East-Pakistan Parliament signed a statement, which denounced Pakistan’s government for signing a military pact with the United States.[7]

In post 1971 West-Pakistan, the Soviet relations with Pakistan improved after the formation of leading democratic and socialist Pakistan Peoples Party. [6] The tendency of socialism was greater in West Pakistan, in contrast to East Pakistan and in the former western wing of the country now Pakistan the trend and tendency towards communism was at its height. [6]

After the 1965 war, Soviet relations with socialist nuanced parties namely the Awami National Party, Pakistan People’s Party, and the Pakistan Socialist Party, impulsively improved. In 1972, the Pakistani Parliament passed the resolution which called for establishing ties with the Soviet Union.[6] During the 1980s when the purges took place under the Zia regime, the socialists members escaped to Soviet Union through Afghanistan, seeking  political asylum there. [6]


The Soviet Union played a decisive role in the 1971 Winter war, first signing the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. [13] The Soviet Union sympathized with the Bangladeshis, and supported the Indian Army and Mukti Bahini during the war, recognizing that the independence of Bangladesh would weaken the position of its rivals—the United States, Saudi Arabia, and China. [13]

On 6. December and 13. December 1971, the Soviet Navy dispatched two groups of cruisers and destroyers and a nuclear submarine armed with nuclear missiles from Vladivostok; [13] they trailed U.S. Task Force 74 into the Indian Ocean from 18. December 1971 until 7. January 1972.

The Soviets also had a nuclear submarine to help ward off the threat posed by USS Enterprise task force in the Indian Ocean. [14][15] The Soviet Navy’s presence had put a threat of existence for Pakistan, with the Soviet nuclear submarines’ K-320 and Charlie, of which movements were picked up by Pakistan Navy’s submarines. [13] The Pakistan Navy’s submarines Ghazi, Hangor, and Mangor had sent solid evidence of Soviet Navy’s covert involvement helping the Indian Navy, and Soviet Navy’s own secret operations against Pakistan Navy. [13] Pakistan Navy avoided aggressive contacts with the Soviet Navy due to possible nuclear retaliation by Soviet nuclear submarines in Karachi. [13]

In 2012, in an official press release by the Russian Consulate-General in Karachi, the Russian ambassador remarked that former Soviet stance against Pakistan in 1971, was a “somewhat embarrassing for our relations”. [16]


U-2 Grand Slam Flight Plan, 1 May 1960

The democratic socialist alliance led by then-prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto made an effort to improve relations with the Soviet Union. This was for the first time in the history of Pakistan that Soviet Union’s ties with Pakistan began to warm up and relations were quickly improving. Reviving his foreign policy, Bhutto withdrew his country from SEATO and CENTO, breaking off relations with the United States under the presidency of Jimmy Carter.

In 1974, Bhutto paid a tiring and lengthy state visit to Soviet Union, becoming the first prime minister since the independence of Pakistan in 1947. Bhutto and his delegation was met with great jubilation, a warm-hearted celebration took place after Bhutto was received by Alexei Kosygin in Moscow. [17] The honorary guard of honor was offered by the Soviet Armed Forces, and a strong interaction took place between the two countries during Bhutto’s democratic era. [17] Bhutto also met Leonid Brezhnev and Pakistan concluded agreements with Soviet Union on mutual trust, cooperation, technical assistance, and friendship.[18]

While there, Bhutto succeeded to convince the Soviet leaders to establish the integrated steel mills, which prompted the Soviet Union to provide funds for the billion dollar project. [19] Prime Minister Bhutto made a deliberate attempt to warm relations with Russia as he was trying to improve relations with the Communist bloc. [19]

Bhutto sought to develop and alleviate the Soviet-Pak Relations, as Soviet Union established Pakistan Steel Mills in 1972. [20] The foundation stone for this gigantic project was laid on 30 December 1973 by the then Prime minister Mr. Z. A. Bhutto.

Facing inexperience for the erection work of the integrated steel mill, Bhutto also requested Soviet Union to send its experts to Pakistan. [20] Acceding to this request, Soviet Union sent dozens of advisers and experts, led by Russian scientist Mikhail Koltokof, who supervised the construction of this integrated Steel Mills with a number of industrial and consortium companies financing this mega-project. [20]

From 1973 till 1979, both countries enjoyed a strong relationship which also benefited the Soviet Union. [19] This interaction, however, turned short lived after the popular unrest which began to take place after the 1977 elections. [21] With active involvement of the United States, America’s notorious intelligence agency  the CIA sponsored the operation code-named Fair Play removing Bhutto from power in 1977.


Next: War against Soviets & Post War Developments

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!
Source, Images, top to bottom 1  2  3  4 
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