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Kiyani’s Visit to Russia And The New Great Game

Posted by yourpakistan on October 9, 2012


PKKH Exclusive Report: By Atiq Durrani

General Kiani’s visit to Russia has raised the brows of many in the region. We want to aware the nation, for once, of the Post Afghan War scenario that awaits the fate of the region: The weak position of the US/Allies in Russia in Indian Ocean along with China at the straits of Hurmuz. As this alliance strongly surrounds Afghanistan, the anti-US/NATO/ISAF forces will be getting help from the new alliance to throw out the old alliance and wipe its footprints from the region for good. On the Economic End, a regional scenario is thinkable where; Russia will be keen to take human resource for its untapped rich resources from the allied countries and on the other hand will be investing in infrastructure for the rich untapped resources in the countries like Pakistan.

Russia benefits from Gawadar, the warm waters and the Middle Eastern Market with an approach of strategic edge in the region by keeping any eye on the routes. Previously Russia has shown its strength by the presence of a strong fleet the Abkhazia region, in the Black Sea, making missile defense shield useless. Now if, as planned, Washington is going to pull out its two divisions of combat forces from the Red Sea, the shield will be totally vulnerable, meaning EU will be on its own. Think of all that and imagine, while one alliance is going into a mess (US-EU), another alliance (Pak-Russia-China) is in the making. Think of all that, and then the visits of Russian officials to Pakistan and Pakistani officials to Russia and derive the results. Dehli and Washington surely need to make some plans to save their faces in the coming days. 

With the United States and NATO set to leave Afghanistan over the next two years, foreign policies of Pakistan and other neighbors of Afghanistan are also changing. Power in the region is shifting, with the US influence on decline in the region, regional powers are once again gaining in the region and are active to score maximum benefits from the post US/NATO pull out scenario. In this new scenario Pakistan once again became center of the regional politics because of its geographical importance and influence in Afghanistan.

Improving Pak-Russia relations are one of the examples of change in the regional politics. Russia and Pakistan both are changing their foreign policies to seek strong relations with the regional powers. At one end regional powers like Russia and China are encouraging Pakistan in this shift of policies because it’s not only in the favor of Pakistan but it’s also in favor of the region and at the other side US and India are losing their grip on this region and don’t want this to happen. When Mr. Puttin postponed his visit to Pakistan, Western and Indian media started their propaganda against Pak-Russia relations but the recent Chief of Army Staff’s visit to Russia once again closed all doors for this negative propaganda and proved that Russia and Pakistan are determined to take forward their mutual relationship.

In some reports it was mentioned that Mr. Puttin was pressurized by the US through India and the Indian lobby in Russia to cancel his visit to Pakistan. If that’s true and the US-India had managed to postpone Mr. Puttin’s visit to Pakistan then COAS visit to Russia at this time is a nice move by military strategists.

Russia and Pakistan both are concerned with the likely US strategy to manage the post 2014 stability in Afghanistan which has definite implications for both the countries. US came in this region to gain influence and to stop strategic partnership of Central Asian Powers with the South Asian Powers because they knew it will make a powerful block in the region against their vested interests. But their stay in the region since 2001 and their poor strategic policies in the war against terror acted as a catalyst for the initiative of strong strategic relations between Central Asian Powers and the South Asian Powers.

A decade long US war against terror not only made Afghanistan a graveyard for their soldiers and dragged the neighboring countries of Afghanistan in war but it also deeply affected their economy. Now as it is obvious from the situation in Afghanistan and the statements of US Military and Government representatives that US/NATO may leave before their proposed date of exit from Afghanistan, regional powers like Russia and China are back in action once again.

Pakistan enjoys a great strategic edge, serving as a bridge and corridor to different regions. This also gives Russia an attractive spot to materialize on its strategic depth. In the present scenario when US is all set to leave Afghanistan and decline in the US influence in the region, Russia is reaching out to Pakistan and Afghanistan to improve economic ties, secure their borders and to gain influence in the region. Russia eyes a role in Afghanistan and for that they need Pakistan because they know that after the exit of US /NATO from Afghanistan, Kabul will be likely to fall in the hands of elements which will share strong ties with Pakistan at least. Russia cannot achieve its goals in Afghanistan without the help of future Afghan Government; at the same time Russia also want to protect its borders from the militant groups, already active in the region. Russia needs a partner in the region, which may secure its interests and which may not become a threat for its future plans and economics structures to be implemented. For this purpose they don’t have any better option than Pakistan. Only by strong bilateral relation with Pakistan they can achieve their goals in the region.

China the other regional power and key member of SCO (Shanghai Cooperative Organization), an important anti-American regional initiative to bring peace and stability in the region, is also a close ally of Pakistan. Pakistan has strong strategic and economic relations with China. China and Russia are also allies and the SCO is led by both. Pak-China relation also made Russia to improve its relations with Pakistan and Russia’s interests in the region compelled it to join the Afghanistan, China and Pakistan Club.

Reaching warm-water ports through land route and trade with Middle East is another dream of Russia and Pakistan is best suited to meet this demand that will open up new opportunities for the landlocked Central Asian Republics. Gawadar port can play a vital role in the improvement of their trade with Middle East. In this regard President Zardari already announced to provide southern warm water access to Russia during his visit.

As a neighboring country, though there is a cold rift between Pakistan’s and Iran’s policies, both these countries share some regional interests. Iran, who is right now in the Indian block, will have to join the block of Pakistan, Russia and China. Iran and Russia were already sharing strong ties with India, but due to India’s old habit of going down with the sinking ship, probably Iran will re-consider its Middle Eastern policies to make strong and normal ties with Pakistan.

Therefore, ongoing developments between Moscow and Islamabad, high-level visits, and Pakistan’s possible role in the SCO, signs for a greater South and East Asian alliance in the form of the SCO, and an axis of a China-Russia-Pakistan partnership can bring positive omens not only to the region but also to the Asian continent as a whole.

This alliance will play a vital role in the future in both cases, if US/NATO leaves Afghanistan, this will be the end of their influence in this region but if they stay in the region which obviously they can’t afford, it will be the end of US itself because if they stay and the anti US forces already sitting on the gates of Kabul get help from both sides of Afghanistan, that will be the last nail on the coffin of US.

The most important thing in this scenario is the isolation of India in the region. India’s relations with Russia are not as strong as it was before because of their recent military agreements with US. Dehli never had as strong relations with Beijing as Pakistan has. Exit of US from Afghanistan will automatically announce pack-up of India from Afghanistan. Pakistan also never had good relations with India although “Aman ki Asha” tried its best but the comments on Kashmir in recent UN summit by both countries once again proved that without resolution of Kashmir issue it will be only “Aman ka Tamasha”. This will leave India alone in the region and can be pressurize by the regional powers for the resolution of its disputes and normalization of its relations with the neighboring countries.

In this era of the new great game, Pakistan is clearly coming out of the US shadow but Pakistan also needs to have its proper role and share to achieve its strategic and economic objectives in the region. Unlike the western powers, particularly the United States, the Russian federation will not only provide military assistance to Pakistan but it will also provide assistance for strengthening the industrial infrastructure of Pakistan. Since 1950’s when Pakistan joined the anti-communist alliance, Pakistan was close ally of United States. Several billion dollars of economic and military aid was provided by United States and many western powers to Pakistan, but they never assisted Pakistan to uplift the socio-economic conditions and to achieve self-reliance in industrial-technological area. In these 60 years of relationship with western powers they were not able to provide a landmark like Pakistan Steel Mills that was provided by the Russian Federation. Pakistan Steel Mills is the greatest landmark in the history of Pakistan-Russia relations which reflects the base for a longstanding relationship.

Pakistan, in spite of being an active member of the world community in combating terrorism, making all its efforts and sacrifices, always gathered only negative publicity from the western media. Pakistan’s efforts in combating terrorism were never appreciated by the west and Pakistan is always pressurized to do more. In such situation it will be more useful for Pakistan to expand cooperation with the SCO states, especially Russia and China. Pakistan can develop long-term economic cooperation with Russia. Moscow has expressed interest in participating in the construction of the TAPI (the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India, Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline), CASA-1000 (Central Asia South Asia Regional Energy and Trade) energy project and the Pakistan Steel Mill.

Delay in Mr. Puttin’s visit is not the end of Pak-Russia relation but the visit of Chief of Army Staff’s visit to Russia is definitely a new beginning of the Pak-Russia relations. In the present scenario Russia is in need of Pakistan as a substitute for India in the region and to achieve its strategic and economic objectives in the region after US exit from Afghanistan. But Pakistan should not compromise its national interests in these new relations. Pakistan in its re-visit and re-formed policy should have an even handed approach to all great powers, near and distant, to fulfill their national security objectives.

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