Friday, May 13, 2011

Pakistan’s New Friend Russia


How the world changes. In the 80s, the US was allied with America fighting the USSR and Islamabad was instrumental in the implosion of the Soviet Union. The Kremlin admitted defeat and retreated from Afghanistan. The ingrates in Washington abandoned Pakistan and on the eve of the victory celebration sanctioned Pakistan for ephemeral faults and perceived crimes.

Today, the US-Pakistan relations are fraying, a victim of Gung-Ho Ramboism, and John Wayne imperialism that tramples on countries to achieve real or imaginary profits. President Zardari’s visit to Moscow is a seminal event. Kremlin has since de-hyphenated its relations with New Delhi and Islamabad. Moscow is no longer looking at Pakistan through Bharati eyes. It is looking at Pakistan through the glasses of self-interest. Pakistan has now taken centre stage in Russia’s efforts to seek out new profits in the area. Mr. Zardari has met Russian President Dmitry Medvedev five times in the past three years. Catherine the Great would be proud of Prime Minister Putin for helping Moscow get access to the warm waters of the Arabian Sea.Pakistan in return will get links to the Central Asia states. Pretty profitable ventures for both countries.
While the US media obsesses over Abbottabad, Beijing and Moscow are looking at the strategic impact of the US withdrawal or lack thereof in Afghanistan.. There are several events that have taken place.
  1. Pakistan’s role acting as Praetorian guard in defense of Bahrain, Kuwait, the UEA, and Saudi Arabia.
  2. The Pakistani-Chinese “Strategic Dialogue” that happened in April.
  3. The Chinese-Russian dialogue in Moscow. Chinese President Hu Jintao met his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev Wednesday in the southern Chinese beach resort of Sanya and the two leaders agreed to further improve cooperation and safeguard common interests.
  4. The visit has been hailed as a ‘leap forward’ in Pakistan-Russia relations to promote greater understanding between the two countries.
  5. Shortly before the G20 London summit , China’s central bank governor announced that the dollar should be replaced by SDRs.

  6. The Shinghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is successor of Shinghai Five created in 1996. Pakistan is on the brink of joining it.
  7. The “fizz” seems to have gone out of the US-Russia reset, and in this psot-Libya, post-OBL era, Moscow has been compelled into a reality check .
  8. China has prepared for years for the U.S. to leave.
In Sochi last August, Russia institutionalized a new organization with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The four countries are building economic structures to undertake joint economic projects in power generation, transport infrastructure and coal, copper and gold mining. They are rebuilding a trade Silk Route from former Soviet Central Asia via Afghanistan to Pakistan. Tajikstan is exporting and Russia is fundng a road and rail network. Moscow is investing in energy, (oil, gas and hydropower) sectors of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan.
The US could have been part of the new bounties, but it has chosen to bank on drones and stealth choppers to achieve its objectives.
Pakistani President Zardari’s current official visit to Russia on May 11-14 will be the epitome of Moscow’s strategy of bringing Islamabad closer to Central Asia. One Russian scholar Vladimir Radyuhin writing for The Hindu says “Russian-Pakistani relations have recently acquired breathtaking dynamics.”
Russia has done astonishing things to develop relations with Pakistan. During the current visit of Mr. Zardari’s Pakistan and Russia will finalize the modernization of the Soviet built Pakistan Steel Mills in Karachi, the building of rail tracks from Dushambe to Islamabad, cooperation in the energy sectors and agriculture.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced the funding of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in Dushanbe.
Moscow has refused to join the U.S. in ostracizing Pakistan– is Afghanistan. A minor detail in this classic web of profits is the US withdrawal from Afghanistan–after a debilitating expense of $3 Trillion.
The quid-pro-quo is real and beneficial to both sides. Russia wants dialogue with the Talibs and get peace from Pakistan, just like China has made peace with Pakistan and has peace with the Ughyers. In return Moscow promises to support Pakistan’s bid to join the SCO–a Russo-Chinese club which includes all the Central Asia states. The mutual benefit continues in a virtuous circle. Russia gets access to warm waters.
Vladimir Radyuhin is “All the settings are there that the current summit may be a momentous event not only for Russian-Pakistani relations, but for the entire region.”

Another solid development:

The projects include rail monopoly Russian Railways' prospective construction of railroad infrastructure in Pakistan, Russian companies' planned participation in upgrading a metallurgical plant, as well as energy giant Gazprom joining the work to develop oil and gas fields in the country.


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