ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Ambassador to the Russian Federation Shafqat Ali Khan has said that Islamabad and Moscow have gradually built strategic trust and have put in place institutional mechanisms to take forward their bilateral coordination and cooperation.
He was speaking at a webinar jointly hosted by the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) and Moscow-based Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) on “Russia-Pakistan Cooperation: Regional Interests and Global Context”.
“The two countries in the past two decades have sincerely pursued development of friendly cooperative relations and today these relations are marked by deepening trust and expanding win-win cooperation,” the envoy said while hailing the “development of strategic trust” as a huge success.
Ambassador Khan said “a solid architecture” had been put in place by the two countries for consultation and coordination on a wide range of issues, including strategic stability, counter-terrorism, and economic and trade relations. He noted that bilateral trade had last year touched an all-time high of $730 million.
The envoy hoped that North-South gas pipeline, which was recently renamed as Pakistan Stream, would become a flagship project for Pakistan-Russia economic relations.
He said Moscow had also expressed interest in the revival of Pakistan Steel Mills and improvement of Pakistan Railways.
Ambassador Khan said the Pak-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation, which could not meet last year because of Covid-19 pandemic, was likely to meet this year to take up various proposals for promotion of economic relations.
He observed that defence relations had also improved alongside progress on other elements of bilateral relations.
Former ambassador to Russia Qazi Khalilullah touched upon the Russian proposal for collective security in the Gulf region. He said the Russian proposal espoused a regional and multilateral approach in developing a security system by holding bilateral and multilateral consultations between interested states, besides the UN Security Council.
Ambassador Khalilullah said: “Russian proposal for collective security holds a promise,” if pursued actively.
RIAC Director General Andrey Kortunov emphasised that Russia and Pakistan enjoyed geopolitical importance at the regional as well as global level and said the two countries could cooperate with regard to developments in the broader Asia region and the Middle East, which he described as the “most explosive and one of the least stable parts of the world”.
Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2021