OVER the last few years, Pakistan and Russia have shown the strong desire to put their bilateral relations on a positive trajectory whilst forgetting the past bitterness which indeed will have benefits not only for both the countries but the entire region.
In the latest important development, Pakistan has finally decided to sign a deal with Moscow to settle a 39-year old exporters’ claims case pending since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, paving the way for Russia to invest over $ 8 billion dollars in Pakistan. The government has authorized its Ambassador to Russia to sign the deal. Under the agreement, the Pakistani government will return $ 93.5 million to Russia within ninety days of the signing of the deal and clear pending exporters’ claims to the tune of $ 23.8 million as per the settlement agreements reached on October 6, 2016 and subsequently December 2017. The efforts to sign the deal with Russia were kicked off by the previous government but the incumbent regime took the initiative to execute it, which in our view, should have been signed much earlier given the benefits Pakistan could accrue from the Russian investment. According to the Russian law, it cannot invest in countries with which it has disputes. Moscow has reportedly already conveyed to Pakistan that it would invest eight billion dollars in the country’s energy sector and Pakistan Steel Mills after the resolution of this dispute. Thus, this agreement will augur well for both the countries to bolster their economic and trade relations. Today, we understand Pakistan and Russia enjoy strategic ties. In the last few years both the countries have been seen collaborating closely in the defence field and now we understand that time has come to transform this relationship into a strategic economic partnership. Russia has shown interest to use Gwadar port for its trade and given the relationship the country enjoys both with Pakistan and China, they will be more open to it. We rather will suggest the government to invite the Russian companies to invest in the SEZs being established under the CPEC. The people of Pakistan are also anxiously waiting for the long overdue visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Islamabad and we hope this will take place soon in order to take the bilateral relationship to new heights.