The counsellor from the Russian Embassy in Islamabad officially endorsed Pakistan’s geostrategic importance during a conference earlier in the week and specifically pointed out its role in regional politics and influence in the international Muslim community.
Russian-Pakistani relations continue to strengthen by the day as the two strategic partners follow the blueprint laid out by Valdai Club programme director Oleg Barabanov and expand their expert interactions with one another. Earlier in the week, the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) hosted a one-day conference on bilateral ties that saw the participation of the counsellor from the Russian Embassy in Islamabad who officially endorsed his host country’s geostrategic importance. Speaking at the event, Dr. Sergei A. Baranov praised Pakistan by saying the following:
“The significance of Pakistan is determined by its role in regional politics, its influence in the Muslim world and its geostrategic position. Interaction with Pakistan in the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), as a full-fledged member, is very important for Russia to carry out cross-regional economic, energy and infrastructure projects, and we are very glad that Pakistan is practically engaged in SCO, especially in joint counterterrorism efforts…Such meetings give an added impetus to our mutually beneficial partnership…The low level of direct business ties and insufficient knowledge of Russia’s and Pakistan’s business communities about each other’s capabilities remain weak points. In this regard, great expectations are pinned on the Russian-Pakistani Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation, which has identified priority avenues of our business and investment cooperation.”
His remarks speak to the very high regard in which Russia holds Pakistan nowadays and also say a lot about Moscow’s strategic motivations in improving ties with Islamabad over the past couple of years. The counsellor specifically pointed out Pakistan’s role in regional politics, which was a nod to the “bloody nose” that it gave India two months ago, and his comment about the country’s role in the international Muslim community is a wink to Russia’s “Ummah Pivot” that forms the foundation of its geopolitical “balancing” act in Eurasia. It also proves that there isn’t any problem in bilateral relations like some have speculated despite the hoped-for meeting between President Putin and PM Khan at the recent BRI Forum failing to take place like many had wished.
Furthermore, the counsellor was clear about his country’s intent to “carry out cross-regional economic, energy and infrastructure projects”, which reinforces the notion that Russia is seriously interested in N-CPEC+ and might even participate in CPEC itself, albeit without officially associating itself with the CPEC brand in order to avoid offending its decades-long Indian partner. Russia’s “Return to South Asia” is all about diversifying its regional relations beyond their erstwhile Indian-centricity and restoring balance to this important part of the world that’s been destabilized by what it regards as the US’ “artificially imposed” “Indo-Pacific” concept. Judging by the progress that’s been made in Russian-Pakistani relations as of late, Moscow’s off to a strong start and might very well achieve what it’s set out to do.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.