Cancellation of Putin’s visit?
Posted on 8 months ago
The two-day Quadrilateral Summit (Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Afghanistan) which was planned in Islamabad on October 2-3 has been postponed when in a letter to President Asif Zardari, President Putin expressed his inability to attend it.
Reasons for the postponement or cancellation were not given by either Russian presidency or its ministry of foreign affairs. Some analysts and commentriat observe that the meeting has been cancelled while others are of the opinion that the meeting has been postponed for the time being. While the main purpose of Mr. Putin’s visit was to attend the quadrilateral summit, he was poised to extensively engage with Pakistani leadership for what was described as “formalising the silent reset” in Pak-Russia relations. A brief statement from Foreign Office of Pakistan said: “The Quadrilateral Summit (Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Afghanistan), which was planned in Islamabad from 2-3 October 2012, is being rescheduled.”
There is a perception that the US pressurized India to play its role in getting President Putin’s visit to Pakistan cancelled. But Russian interests would be compromised in the region by playing in the hands of India and the US. However, there is a redeeming feature that President Putin in his letter to President Zardari expressed his inability to visit Pakistan at the present but radiated an aura of optimism by writing: “I am confident that in future we shall be able to find opportunities for arranging our personal meeting…We shall always be happy to receive you in Russia.” Secondly, according to military sources, Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s visit to Moscow will be on course i.e. scheduled for next month despite cancellation of President Putin’s visit. It has to be mentioned that Pakistan is central to Russia’s strategy for stabilisation of Afghanistan after the pullout of the U.S.-led coalition forces in 2014, whereas India wants to be the sole beneficiary of post-withdrawal of the NATO forces from Afghanistan.
Russian President’s special envoy for Afghanistan Mr. Kabulov said: “Our own experience in the past and the track record of others in recent years has taught us that the problem of Afghanistan cannot be resolved without the constructive involvement of Pakistan and Iran…”Russia belongs to this region and is against attempts to reorient regional economy and trade from the north to the south.” He added that Moscow and Islamabad share similar perceptions on the post-2014 scenarios for Afghanistan. Both believe in regional solutions for Afghanistan and both are strongly opposed to Washington’s plans to retain military bases in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the coalition forces. Hence, improved political and economic ties with Pakistan should help Moscow counteract U.S. plans to shut out Russia from Central Asia, which is the goal of the New Silk Road project promoted by Washington. But such a scenario is a nightmare for India and the US. They do not like to see development of strong relations between Russia and Pakistan; hence they are trying to throw spanner in the works.
A section of Pakistan media came out with the story that Russia wanted that Gazprom should be given the contract for building Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. Russia is also interested in the Central Asia-South Asia electricity transmission from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan (CASA-1000), and the construction of rail tracks and motor roads from Tajikistan to Pakistan to create new trade routes in the region. Diplomatic observers believe that President Putin was not pleased with Pakistan’s less than keen response to Russian interest in the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, what Russia thought, was due to American pressure. Russia’s deputy minister for energy and representatives of leading energy giant Gazprom, the state-controlled gas monopoly, had attended the Pak-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission earlier this month (September 10). At the meeting, Gazprom representatives gave a presentation on the pipeline and reiterated the interest during a meeting with President Zardari.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was supposed to be a pro-American reformer, but at the same time he has had the passion to restore Russia’s lost might and to make it a principal counterweight to US power. After the end of the Second World War, the US and Russia had emerged as two superpowers that were trying to expand their area of influence in the regions their armed forces were stationed during WW-II. The period from 1946 to 1990 was described as Cold War era till the collapse of the Soviet Union because there was no real war or hot war on a wide scale; of course, proxy wars did take place in various theatres at their behest. At the present, the US is the only superpower, and wishes to run the world according to its whims and fancy. However, despite invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, the influence of the US has waned, as the world has witnessed the invincibility of the superpower being shredded into bits in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan.
It would be appropriate to take a look on history of former Soviet Russia’s relations with Pakistan. In 1949, former Soviet Prime Minister Marshal Joseph Stalin was reported to have extended an invitation to Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan through Pakistan’s ambassador in Iran to visit Moscow, as Pakistan had not established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union till then. Former USSR must have been annoyed for giving preference to the US over Soviet Russia, as bureaucracy had maneuvered to get invitation from US President Harry S. Truman to Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan to pay official visit to the US in May 1950. Anyhow, former Soviet Union never used veto on Kashmir before the U-2 incident and had also threatened Pakistan of dire consequences. Soviet Russia had signed defence treaty with India, and supported India in its role to dismember Pakistan in 1971. But over the years, there have been drastic changes in political landscape of the world and relationships between the countries are also changing. Russia and Pakistan should also develop ties to contribute to the peace in the Region.
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