On September 21, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had a meeting with Jalil Abbas Jilani, Foreign Minister of Pakistan, on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly. The conversation focused on the current bilateral and international agenda, including Ukraine and Afghanistan. The parties reaffirmed their mutual commitment to building up bilateral trade and economic cooperation and interaction on regional and international issues.
Diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Russia were officially established on 1 May 1948, marking the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership. Over the years, the two nations have nurtured a relationship characterized by close ties, mutual respect, and a shared vision on international and regional issues. Today, as we celebrate 75 years of diplomatic relations, it is evident that the collaboration has evolved and strengthened, paving the way for a brighter future.
Historical Bilateral Cooperation
The foundation of the bilateral cooperation dates back to the days of the Soviet Union. Notable projects like the Karachi Steel Mills and major thermal power facilities at Muzaffargarh, Multan-II, and Guddu were constructed with Soviet assistance. The Oil and Gas Development Corporation Ltd. (OGDCL) and the development of Pakistan’s agriculture sector also benefited from Soviet support.
Shared Goals for Regional Stability
Both Pakistan and Russia share a common interest in fostering durable peace and stability in the shared neighbourhood. Aspirations for regional development and prosperity align, driving us to work together to address regional challenges.
High-Level Interactions and Membership in SCO
Sustained high-level interactions have played a pivotal role in elevating the bilateral relations. Pakistan’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a full member injected new energy into the country’s ties with Russia. Pakistan deeply appreciates the support extended by the Russian Federation during this process.
Trade Cooperation: A Growing Partnership
Trade has been steadily expanding, with Pakistan exporting cotton, textiles, leather, synthetic fabrics, rice, fruits, surgical and sports goods to the Russian market. In return, the country imports fertilizers, chemical elements, rubber, tires, paper products, iron and steel, and machinery. The Pakistan-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) on Trade, Economic, Scientific, and Technical Cooperation serves as a vital mechanism for reviewing and enhancing our bilateral cooperation.
Energizing the Future: Energy Cooperation
Energy cooperation has emerged as a cornerstone of our bilateral relations. Russia, as a global leader in oil and gas production, complements Pakistan’s growing energy needs. Agreements such as the North-South Gas Pipeline and cooperation in the sphere of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) signify a shared commitment to energy collaboration. Discussions are ongoing regarding the establishment of a 600 MW ‘Combined Cycle Power Plant’ at Jamshoro, Sindh.
Building Strong Défense Ties
Pakistan-Russia defence cooperation has witnessed significant growth, characterized by frequent high-level engagements. Under the Défense Cooperation Agreement signed in 2014, Russia delivered four Mi-35 gunship helicopters to Pakistan. High-level exchanges between military leadership have further cemented our defence collaboration, and joint military exercises like ‘Friendship’ have become a regular feature.
Parliamentary and Cultural Exchanges
Parliamentary-level exchanges have expanded, contributing to a more robust relationship. These interactions promote a favourable climate in bilateral relations. Cultural and scientific ties are also bolstered through various programs and exchanges. There is huge potential for cultural exchange, in terms of a favourable perception of each other’s culture, traditions, and customs.
Pakistani Diaspora in Russia
Approximately 1,200 Pakistani nationals reside in Russia, comprising students, businessmen, professionals, and blue-collar workers. The embassy maintains close contact with the diaspora, offering support and assistance when needed. Although Pakistani diaspora is not large in number, it enjoys a good reputation and is well respected in the local community.
A Vision for the Future
As we celebrate 75 years of diplomatic relations, it is evident that Pakistan and Russia have come a long way. Recent developments underscore the commitment to constructive engagement across various sectors. The two countries are exploring opportunities for economic cooperation, increased trade and investments. The prospect of trade agreements in local currencies, reduced duties and tariffs, and improved infrastructure networks hold great promise. These steps will not only benefit our nations but also contribute to regional stability and global peace.
Russia’s role as a major global power can further strengthen Pakistan’s position in regional and global politics. Together, we can advocate for peace and stability in Afghanistan through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and other platforms.
Pakistan and Russia have made significant strides in their diplomatic journey, and the future holds immense potential. By fostering stronger diplomatic, economic, military, and people-to-people ties, we can take our bilateral friendship and cooperation to unprecedented heights. As we reflect on our history and look ahead, the bonds between our nations continue to grow stronger, offering hope for a more prosperous and peaceful world. Enhanced interaction among the scholars, researchers, and academicians may boost up the bilateral relation. People-to-people contacts may facilitate an understanding of each other, leading to a promotion of collaboration in trade, industry, and economy.