The ties have been pushed by President Asif Ali Zardari and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, who are said to have developed a rapport. The two presidents have met six times in the past three years. – File Photo by Reuters

ISLAMABAD: With the trough in Pakistan-US ties experiencing an extended run this year, Islamabad and Moscow have quietly been busy in trying to reinvent their relations. The two are currently readying to hold the second session of their inter-governmental commission, constituted to promote bilateral cooperation.

The minister-level commission is expected to meet in November in Islamabad for the second consecutive year, indicating that the two countries are attaching considerable importance to the initiative.

The focus of the meeting will be on economic cooperation, but both sides also want to forge a strategic partnership.

Recent regional developments have forced Pakistan and Russia to cosy up to each other. Russia wants to get more involved in regional affairs as it is wary of the growing influence of the US and Nato in the region. It also knows that Pakistan can play a key role in the Afghan endgame.

Better relations with Moscow suit Islamabad’s long-term strategic interests as it seeks to diversify resources needed for meeting its economic, energy and defence requirements, particularly in view of continuing problems with Washington that has hitherto been its biggest supplier.

“Both Pakistan and Russia want to seize the window of opportunity and make a new beginning in their relations,” a senior Pakistani diplomat told Dawn.

Russia has offered Pakistan a wide range of counter-terrorism equipment. The package on offer includes 10 MI-17 helicopters of unarmed configuration.

Mindful of reluctance in Moscow to sell arms to it, Pakistan is said to be considering the offer for helicopters even though it is not too interested in the unarmed transport version.

When Russian military chief Col-Gen Alexander Postnikov visited Pakistan in May he discussed with Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani the possibility of expanding defence ties by holding joint military exercises, exchanging trainees and trainers and selling and buying weapons. The Russians have also offered to sell Sukhoi Superjet 100, a modern aircraft with a capacity of up to 95 passengers. Pakistan, which has traditionally been purchasing Boeing and Airbus aircraft, may purchase a couple of the Russian jets on an experimental basis.

Moscow has shown special interest in energy projects. A working group of both countries met last month to explore cooperation in this sector.

A source privy to the discussions said Russia had agreed to invest $500 million in CASA-1,000 (Central Asia-South Asia) electricity transmission project.

At the same time, details for upgradation of Pakistan Steel Mills in two phases by Russia are being finalised. The upgradation would increase PSM’s production capacity from 1.1 million tons to 3 million tons per year. Pakistan has also sought import concessions for 200 tariff lines.

The ties have been pushed by President Asif Ali Zardari and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, who are said to have developed a rapport. The two presidents have met six times in the past three years.

ISLAMABAD, Sept 17: With the trough in Pakistan-US ties experiencing an extended run this year, Islamabad and Moscow have quietly been busy in trying to reinvent their relations. The two are currently readying to hold the second session of their inter-governmental commission, constituted to promote bilateral cooperation. The minister-level commission is expected to meet in November in Islamabad for the second consecutive year, indicating that the two countries are attaching considerable importance to the initiative. The focus of the meeting will be on economic cooperation, but both sides also want to forge a strategic partnership. Recent regional developments have forced Pakistan and Russia to cosy up to each other. Russia wants to get more involved in regional affairs as it is wary of the growing influence of the US and Nato in the region. It also knows that Pakistan can play a key role in the Afghan endgame. Better relations with Moscow suit Islamabad’s long-term strategic interests as it seeks to diversify resources needed for meeting its economic, energy and defence requirements, particularly in view of continuing problems with Washington that has hitherto been its biggest supplier. “Both Pakistan and Russia want to seize the window of opportunity and make a new beginning in their relations,” a senior Pakistani diplomat told Dawn. Russia has offered Pakistan a wide range of counter-terrorism equipment. The package on offer includes 10 MI-17 helicopters of unarmed configuration. Mindful of reluctance in Moscow to sell arms to it, Pakistan is said to be considering the offer for helicopters even though it is not too interested in the unarmed transport version. When Russian military chief Col-Gen Alexander Postnikov visited Pakistan in May he discussed with Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani the possibility of expanding defence ties by holding joint military exercises, exchanging trainees and trainers and selling and buying weapons. The Russians have also offered to sell Sukhoi Superjet 100, a modern aircraft with a capacity of up to 95 passengers. Pakistan, which has traditionally been purchasing Boeing and Airbus aircraft, may purchase a couple of the Russian jets on an experimental basis. Moscow has shown special interest in energy projects. A working group of both countries met last month to explore cooperation in this sector. A source privy to the discussions said Russia had agreed to invest $500 million in CASA-1,000 (Central Asia-South Asia) electricity transmission project. At the same time, details for upgradation of Pakistan Steel Mills in two phases by Russia are being finalised. The upgradation would increase PSM’s production capacity from 1.1 million tons to 3 million tons per year. Pakistan has also sought import concessions for 200 tariff lines. The ties have been pushed by President Asif Ali Zardari and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, who are said to have developed a rapport. The two presidents have met six times in the past three years.

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