In the recent past, Pakistan’s policymakers became convinced that seeking partners in the region would help it more in overcoming the challenges it was facing. The shift in foreign policy paradigm was a right move for the partnership between Islamabad and Washington was not based on equal terms as successive American presidents tried to cover their failures in Afghanistan by scapegoating Pakistan. The shift in Pakistan’s foreign policy is visible as Imran met his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev in Shanghai.
Prime Ministers of both the nations agreed on enhancing bilateral relations in diverse areas. Improving cooperation between the two countries is what is needed most at the moment. And both sides have realised the fact that participation in one area of mutual benefit will open vistas for cooperation in other fields. Pakistan has recognised the effectiveness of regionalism only after consistent American betrayals.
The recent thaw in Pakistan-Russia relations is key regional development. The warmth in the bilateral ties indicates that Russia is acting on its strategy of developing new partnerships in the region. The meeting between the Prime Ministers of the two states and the recently concluded military exercises that both sides had held together shows that the two countries are warming up to each other as the changing geo-strategic situation demands so.
Not ignoring the fact that it is in the long-term interest of Pakistan to establish mutually constructive relations with Russia. Efforts should be made to forge ties with Moscow without expecting immediate results. It is just a matter of time that Russia will be forced to adopt a more balanced foreign policy towards South Asia. Given the decreasing role of the United States (US) in our foreign policy tilt towards regional powers is the natural and sensible choice. The government, especially the military taking initiatives that are mutually beneficial are praiseworthy. More such step will be welcome.
The military under Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Bajwa, understands well that through confidence-building measures and cooperation on issues like terrorism, threats of destabilisation in Central Asia, and formation on a consensus-based government in Afghanistan may bring the two sides closer. The words of COAS, “Exercise is a great forum to reinforce existing relationship between the two militaries,” and Imran Khan’s stress on increasing economic cooperation with Moscow means that a multi-pronged strategy is at play to take the Russo-Pak ties to new heights.
It is high time that a paradigm shift takes place from the Cold War Era ‘zero-sum’ approach to people-centred cooperative security driven economic and strategic partnership for the progress of the region. And the latest developments suggest that Islamabad and Moscow realise this.