Russian Foreign Minister’s Visit To Pakistan: Strengthened Relations

The Russian Federation, Mr. Sergey Lavrov, paid an official visit to Pakistan on 6-7 April 2021. The Russian Foreign Minister held delegation-level talks with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. He also called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief, as well as had cordial interaction with other dignitaries during his two-day stay in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Sergey Lavrov’s two-day tour to Pakistan is the first visit by a Russian foreign minister in nine years, part of a warming in once frosty relations. It comes as Moscow seeks to enhance its stature in the region, particularly in Afghanistan, where it has sought to pose itself as a critical player in accelerated struggles to find a peaceful end to decades of war.

“We stand ready to strengthen the anti-terrorist potential of Pakistan, including by supplying Pakistan with special military equipment,” Lavrov said, without going into detail about the equipment. He added that an agreement was also reached on conducting additional joint military exercises such as the Arabian Monsoon maritime drill.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan had “looked at our cooperation in defense and counterterrorism. We feel that we have within our framework of dialogue [involving] strategic stability and counterterrorism opportunities of interaction, and we feel we can help each other”.

On Economic relations, Russia is building a gas pipeline between Karachi and Lahore. And will also extend expertise to modernize the country’s railway system as well as its energy sector.

Lavrov said Moscow had offered delivery of liquefied natural gas to Pakistan through Russian companies Gazprom and Novatek. “Russia’s Rosatom and Pakistan’s Nuclear Energy Commission were in touch for cooperation for the use of technology for medicine and industry,” he said.

Lavrov noted that Russia had provided 50,000 vaccine doses to Pakistan and said it intended to provide 150,000 more. Russian Vaccine is well tested and found promising results in Pakistan.

Lavrov Qureshi
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends a meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Islamabad, Pakistan, April 6, 2021

Qureshi said there was now a “new approach and a new mindset for Russia” in Pakistan because Russia was a player for stability globally. “We want to build a relationship of trust and friendship with the Russian Federation,” he said, adding that Pakistan also adhered to Russia’s principles of the centrality of the UN, the importance of international law, and multilateralism.

Qureshi, in his closing remarks, termed the visit of his Russian counterpart as “important,” adding that “It has taken place after almost a decade and we feel this visit will further deepen our bilateral relations and our friendship, and we intend to maintain this momentum in our high-level contacts.”

Meeting with PM Imran and COAS

Foreign Minister Lavrov also separately called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa later in the day. During the meeting with Prime Minister, “bilateral relations and issues of regional and global importance were discussed,” according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office. The premier recalled that he had underscored his desire to take the bilateral relationship between Russia and Pakistan to a new level during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin in June 2019.

“The prime minister reiterated Pakistan’s importance to its relations with Russia as a key foreign policy priority. He expressed satisfaction at the steady growth in bilateral ties, including deepening cooperation in trade, energy, security, and defense,” the statement said.

In Lavrov’s meeting with Chief of Army Staff Gen Bajwa at the General Headquarters, “matters of mutual interest including enhanced defense and security cooperation [and] regional security, particularly the Afghan Peace Process,” were discussed, the military’s media wing said.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations statement, the Russian foreign minister acknowledged Pakistan’s achievements in the war against terrorism and contributions for regional peace and stability, saying, “Pak-Russia relations are on a positive trajectory and will continue to develop; in multiple domains.” During the meeting, Gen Bajwa said Pakistan valued its relations with Russia and reciprocated the desire for enhanced bilateral military cooperation.

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