Pakistan–Russia relations [3 of 5]

Russia condemned the military coup d’état against Prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999 to remove the prime minister from power.
On 19 April 2001, the Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Losyukov paid a state visit to Pakistan where both countries agreed upon cooperating in economic development, and to work towards peace and prosperity in the region.
In the wake of September 11, 2001 attacks, the relations warmed rapidly when Pakistan denounced the government of Taliban and joined the NATO coalition to hunt down the Jihadist organizations and al-Qaeda.



So the Soviet relations with Pakistan came to deterioration on April 4, 1979, when Bhutto was executed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. [21] Earlier, Leonid Brezhnev, Alexei Kosygin, and other members of the Politburo had sent repeated calls for clemency to the CMLA General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq who straightaway rejected the Soviet requests. [21] Breznev maintained that issue concerning Bhutto’s trial was Pakistan’s internal matter yet did not wish to see him executed. When Bhutto was hanged, Brezhnev condemned the act out of “purely humane motives”. [21]


Afghanistan map after Soviet intervention : Showing areas involving heavy fighting. Note: Areas adjacent to Balochistan province remained untouched (white region, south) from the fighting while the NWFP (north-west) was inflicted with heavy fighting.

Shortly after the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s military ruler General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq called for a meeting of the senior military members and technocrats of his government. [22] At this meeting, General Zia asked the Chief of Army Staff General Khalid Mahmud Arif (veteran of 1965 and 1971 wars) and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Muhammad Shariff (who was made POW by India during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971) to lead a specialized civil-military team to formulate a geo-strategy to counter the Soviet aggression. [22] At this meeting, the Director-General of the ISI at that time, Lieutenant-General Akhtar Abdur Rahman advocated for an idea of covert operation in Afghanistan by arming the Islamic extremists, and was loudly heard saying: “Kabul must burn! Kabul must burn!”. [22] As for Pakistan, the Soviet war with Islamist Mujahideen was a complete revenge in retaliation of the Soviet Union’s long timed unconditional support for its arch-rival rival India, notably during the 1965 and the 1971 wars, which had led to the loss of its former wing East Pakistan. [22]

In 1980, the relationship took another dangerous turn, when Soviet press, notably the “Pravda” and other Soviet commentators, began to issue threatening statements against Pakistan. [23] Soviet Commentator, V Baikov, went far enough to say: The axis of United States and China, is trying to secure a base for its rapid deployment force, presumably offering F-16 fighter plans in that respect.” [23]

Another Soviet commentator “threateningly” asked Pakistan, “If she (Pakistan) thought about where to the United States was pulling it in its hostilities against Afghanistan; it must know, their aggression is taking place in the vicinity of the USSR”. [23] In February 1980, a delegation of TASS in New York maintained that, “One can see the contours of dangerous plans aimed at Pakistan’s arch rivals— India, Soviet Union, and Afghanistan. [23]

The change of administration in 1980 and immediate verbal threat of Soviet Union to Pakistan, brought the United States and Pakistan on a six-year trade, economic and military agreement, valuing approximately ~32.5 billions US dollars. [23]

The U.S. viewed the conflict in Afghanistan as an integral Cold War struggle, and the CIA provided assistance to anti-Soviet forces through the ISI, in a program called Operation Cyclone. [24] [25] The siphoning off of aid weapons, in which the weapons logistics and coordination were put under Pakistan Navy in the port city of Karachi, contributed to disorder and violence there, while heroin entering from Afghanistan to pay for arms contributed to addiction problems. [26]

The Pakistan Navy also coordinated with the supply of foreign weapons into Afghanistan, while some of its high-ranking admirals were responsible for storing the weapons in the Naval Logistics Depot. The Pakistani naval commanders rendered their cooperation for the weapons supply programme to the Mujahideen out of complete revenge because of Pakistan Navy’s terrible loss and defeat at the hands of Soviet Navy in 1971.[22]

In November 1982, General Zia traveled to the Soviet capital to attend the funeral of Leonid Brezhnev, then-General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. [27] Soviet President Andrei Gromyko and the new Secretary-General Yuri Andropov met with Zia where a brief meeting took place at the Kremlin. [27] The Soviet leader, the new Secretary General of the Communist Party of the USSR, Yuri Andropov was angry at Pakistan’s covert involvement in supporting the Afghan resistance against the Soviets and their satellite state Afghanistan. Soviet leaders expressed their indignation to the General.[27]

Then General Zia took his hand and told Andropov, “Mr. Secretary General… Believe me, Pakistan wants nothing but good and healthy relations with the Soviet Union”. [27] According to Andrei Gromyko, Zia’s sincerity had caught everybody off guards and in that meeting everyone believed him but sadly found that his words did not match his actions. [27]

Ironically, Zia also dealt directly with Israel, working to build covert relations with the Zionist state allowing her to actively participate in the Soviet’s war in Afghanistan. Helped by ISI, the Mossad channeled Soviet reversed engineered weapons to Afghanistan. [28] In Charlie Wilson’s own words, Zia reported to have remarked to Israeli intelligence service: “Just don’t put any stars of David on the boxes”. [28]


Mothers of Soviet soldiers meeting at the Pakistani Embassy in Moscow appealing to the Bhutto government for rescuing Soviet soldiers from captivity. It was not until 1992 when the Sharif government released the details of soldiers.

Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) authorized further aggressive military operations in Afghanistan to topple the fragile communist regime and to end the Soviet influence. [29] One of her military authorizations was the military action in Jalalabad [Afghanistan] in retaliation of Soviet Union’s long standing, unconditional support to India, a proxy war in Pakistan, and Pakistan’s loss in 1971 war. [29] This operation was “a defining moment for her [Benazir’s] government” to prove the loyalty to Pakistan Armed Forces. [29]

The operation was planned by then-Director General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant-General Hamid Gul, and the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan Robert Oakley. [29] Known as Battle of Jalalabad, it was intended to gain a conventional victory over Soviet Union after the latter had withdrawn its troops. But the operation failed miserably and the Afghan army supported by Soviet scuds won the battle resulting in ISI chief being sacked by the Prime Minister. [29]

At the end years of Cold War, Soviet Union announced to establish a 1000MW commercial nuclear power plant in Pakistan, but after witnessing its aging technology Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, later followed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, did neither authorize the purchase nor showed any interests in aging Soviet technology. [29]

In 1992, Prime minister Nawaz Sharif released the details of the companies of Soviet soldiers to the Russian government when Alexander Rutskoy visited the country, after meeting in a committee led by Deputy Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Shahryar Khan. [30]


Pakistan—Russian Federation relations

After withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan, relations began to normalize between Russia and Pakistan. And the fall of communism within Russia itself, provided further fillip to the Russia-Pakistan relationship. In 1989, Soviet ambassador to Pakistan offered to install in Pakistan a commercial nuclear power plant. However, after U.S. intervention the plan was thrown into cold storage.

In 1994-95, Benazir Bhutto attempted to warm once again its relations with Russia but suffered a major setback when Benazir Bhutto government recognized Taliban-controlled government in Afghanistan as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

Yet in 1996, Russia willingly agreed to launch Pakistan’s second satellite, Badr-B, from its Baikonur Cosmodrome for the lowest possible charges.

Pervez Musharraf shakes hands with a smiling Vladimir Putin (left), 2002.

In 1997, Prime minister Nawaz Sharif attempted to warm relations with the Russian Federation after sending farewell messages to Russian leaders. In 1998, although Russians congratulated India for conducting second nuclear tests, (see Pokhran-II), Russia did not immediately criticize Pakistan for performing its nuclear tests (see Chagai-I and Chagai-II) in the end week of May 1998.

On April 1999 Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif paid an important state visit to Kremlin, which was the first trip to Moscow by a Pakistani Prime minister in 25 years. No breakthrough could be made during this visit. [31] In 1999, Russia welcomed Pakistan and India for making a breakthrough in their relations after signing the Lahore Declaration, but vehemently criticized Pakistan for holding Pakistan responsible for the outbreak of Indo-Pakistani War of Kargill in 1999. During this time, Russia played a major role in ending the war but still remained hostile to Pakistan.

Russia condemned the military coup d’état against Prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999 to remove the prime minister from power. On 19 April 2001, the Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Losyukov paid a state visit to Pakistan where both countries agreed upon cooperating in economic development, and to work towards peace and prosperity in the region. [32] In the wake of September 11, 2001 attacks, the relations warmed rapidly when Pakistan denounced the government of Taliban and joined the NATO coalition to hunt down the Jihadist organizations and al-Qaeda.

The decision of Pakistan to join the international struggle against terrorism has now led to a great improvement of Russia-Pakistan relations. Russia has also played an active role in easing off the nuclear 2001 Indo-Pakistani tensions.


“ We must know where we deceived ourselves to avoid being deceived again…. Russia is one of our closest neighbors… And (could) be an important partner. ”
—Ardeshir Cowasjee and Dawn News, [33]

Russia vowed its support to Pakistan as Pakistan was fighting against the Taliban militants. In 2007, the relations between Pakistan and the Russian Federation were reactivated after the 3-day official visit of Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov. He was the first Russian prime minister ever to visit Pakistan in the post Soviet-era in 38 years. He had “in-depth discussions” with 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. Under the presidency of Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani, relations between Pakistan and Russia have improved significantly. In 2010, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of Russia stated that Russia was against developing strategic and military ties with Pakistan because of Russia’s desire to place emphasis on strategic ties with India. [34]

Hina Kharr meeting with Russian deputy foreign minister A.N. Borodavkin, 2012.

In 2011, Russia changed its policy and Putin publicly endorsed Pakistan’s bid to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and said that Pakistan was a very important partner in South Asia and the Muslim world for Russia.

Putin offered Russia’s assistance in expansion of Pakistan Steel Mills and provision of technical support for the Guddu and Muzaffargarh power plants and Russia was interested in developing the Thar Coal Project [35]

In 2011, Russia strongly condemned the NATO strike in Pakistan and the Russian foreign minister stated it is unacceptable to violate the sovereignty of a state, even when planning and carrying out counter-insurgent operations. [36] In January 2012, reports emerged that Pakistan’s foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar was set to leave for Moscow in the first half of February to formally invite Russian president to pay a state visit to Pakistan.

If the Russian president who has accepted the invitation, and visits Pakistan, this would be the first ever visit by a Russian head of state to visit the country. The move is believed to be part of changes in Pakistan’s foreign policy which include efforts to open up relations with other regional powers following strains in relations with the United States. [37] In 2012, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced to pay a state visit to Pakistan soon after his re-election.


In 1990, Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan sent fare well message to Moscow to set up the economic coordination between two countries. [38] In 1991, then Benazir Bhutto drove the high-level economic delegation to Central Asia and Russia after the collapse of Soviet Union. [38]

In 2003, the bilateral trade between Russia and Pakistan reached to 92 million US dollar, which increased to 411.4 million in 2006. [16] The bilateral trade between each country reached to 630 million in 2008 and ~400 million in 2009. [16] In the following year, both countries established the “Russian–Pakistan Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation to collaborate in science and technology and education”. [16]

In 2011, Prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani and Vladimir Putin held a frank discussion in the cordial atmosphere of the tenth Heads of Government meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. [39] Russia is currently financing the mega energy project, CASA-1000, transmitting the power generation from Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan to Pakistan. Russia has provided 500Mn US dollars for the CASA-1000 for this power transmission project. [39]

In 2011, both countries have initiated the work on the framework of the proposed Free Trade Agreement and currency swap arrangement to boost bilateral trade and further strengthen their economic ties. [39]

In 2012, Russia and Pakistan have covertly developed geopolitical and strategic relations behind the scenes. As Stephen Blank of the Strategic Studies Institute maintains. [39] These have centered on world politics for the last two years, and as the NATO-led ISAF and the US Forces in Afghanistan, plan to leave Afghanistan in 2014, the Russian Federation has came to the conclusion that Pakistan is a crucial player in Afghanistan and that, as NATO withdraws, it becomes all the more important and urgent for Moscow to seek some sort of modus vivendi with Islamabad. [39]


The world’s first bilingual Urdu-Russian dictionary was compiled and launched by Pakistan-based Russian scholar Dr. Tashmirza Khalmirzaev in 2012 at a ceremony in Islamabad. Khalmirzaev said the dictionary aimed to “help speakers of both languages come closer.” He also added that a new era was dawning in Pakistan’s relationship with Russia and other Central Asian states and encouraged the government of Pakistan to continue work in promoting the Urdu language in Russia and Central Asia. [40]


On 13 January 2013, in a gallop poll in seven countries managed by the Washington Post, to see whether the people of those seven countries prefer democratic government or one with a “strong” leader, [41] most Russians and the Pakistanis voted that “they prefer a “strong ruler” over democracy.[41]


Next: Giving New Dimensions to Pak Russia Collaboration

Pages  1   2   3     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 of Text and images
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ‘Wonders of Pakistan’. The contents of this article too are the sole responsibility of the author(s). WoP will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this post.



Wonders of Pakistan supports freedom of expression and this commitment extends to our readers as well. Constraints however, apply in case of a violation of WoP Comments Policy. We also moderate hate speech, libel and gratuitous insults.
We at Wonders of Pakistan use copyrighted material the use of which may not have always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We make such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” only. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

2 replies to “Pakistan–Russia relations [3 of 5]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
close-alt close collapse comment ellipsis expand gallery heart lock menu next pinned previous reply search share star