Back in August, the president of United States, Donald Trump announced the Afghan strategy during which he put significant pressure on Pakistan demanding that it should not provide safe havens to terrorists. Pakistan rejected the statements made by Trump in his address with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi saying that the new Afghan policy is set to meet failure.
As the relationship between the two countries turned sour, Pakistan got its support from China and Russia, who had similar reservations on the new Afghan strategy. Russia was one of the first few countries that came forward in support of Pakistan saying that putting pressure on Islamabad will only destabilize the situation in the region.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the Russian support hints towards an improved diplomatic relation between the two countries. China’s support to Pakistan was a natural outcome of the cordial strategic relationship between the two countries and of the billions of dollars the former has invested in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
A senior foreign official said that Pakistan had approached Russia to get its support after the statement of Donald Trump. And Moscow did not disappoint Pakistan with its support keeping in mind that strategic relationship between the two countries had been damaged during the Cold War era.
However, the relationship between the two countries has improved over the last decade with diplomatic meetings held between officials over the last few years. Pakistan and Russia have also started collaborated on the military front as armed forces of both the countries conducted joint military exercises last year.
The foreign official said that more such support from Russia is expected to come in as well as Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan, said that Pakistan is a key player in the region to negotiate with. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif is all set to meet his Russian Counterpart at the UN General Assembly session this week.
Pakistan, for now, is looking to strengthen its support block as Khawaja Asif travelled to China, Iran, and Turkey to get their support.
Is CPEC the Reason for Russia’s Support?
Russia has announced that it will be supporting CPEC and has been given permission by Pakistan to use Gwadar Port for its exports. Pakistan is looking to open doors of CPEC for Russia so as to increase bilateral trade between the two countries. President of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Abdul Basit invited Russian businessman to tap the unexplored Pakistani market in a meeting with a two-member Russian delegation in July.
Bilateral trade will be beneficial for both the countries where Pakistan can export rice, textile goods, surgical equipment, and pharmaceutical products to Russia. Moscow can, in turn, provide steel, power equipment, urea, and other goods to Pakistan. Pakistan should be looking to attract investments from Russia in the field of infrastructure development, energy production, and agricultural sector.
Russia is also planning to merge the Eurasian Economic Union with CPEC as its involvement in CPEC is for its own advantage. China already has the first-mover advantage and Russia’s participation could further improve its ties with China as Moscow is part of Shanghai Corporation Organization (SCO) and BRICS.