The University of Karachi’s Department of Political Science and Office of Research, Innovation & Commercialisation (ORIC) organised a seminar on ‘75 Years of Pakistan-Russia Relations: An Emerging Partnership’ at the Chinese Teachers Memorial Auditorium on Tuesday.
The event’s chief guest, Russian Consul General in Karachi Andrey Viktorovich Fedorov, informed the audience that the relations between the two countries were cemented on May 1, 1948, and since then there have been different historic times and developmental stages.
He highlighted that the biggest achievement of the establishment of ties was the construction of the Pakistan Steel Mill in Karachi, the Guddu Thermal Power Station in northern Sindh and other projects.
He said that even in challenging periods, such as the Afghan War in the 1980s, when the USSR-Pakistan relations were particularly strained, diplomatic ties did not terminate, and new projects and agreements continued to be developed.
He termed the Tashkent Declaration one of the most important milestones in the history of diplomatic ties between both countries, and mentioned that it established the rich legacy of Pakistan-Russia relations, which, in his opinion, needs to be preserved.
“Our bilateral ties have definitely strengthened this year, which started with the Russia-Pakistan Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific & Technical Cooperation held in Islamabad in January.”
He shared that leaders of both countries on different occasions have expressed the willingness to develop cooperation in a wide range of spheres, particularly the energy sector, fight against terrorism, trade and economic partnership, and humanitarian, cultural and educational cooperation.
He mentioned that there is a particularly high number of opportunities in the energy sector with the agreement on the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline, which is aimed at tackling Pakistan’s energy woes.
“Three months ago Russia started supplying crude oil to Pakistan. We also have a lot of untapped potential in almost every sphere of trade partnership,” he pointed out.
“A direct shipping line from St. Petersburg and Vladivostok to Karachi was established, a special order to allow barter trade with Russia was signed and a two-way trucking line from Pakistan to Russia started operating,” he remarked.
“Pakistan has maintained a balanced and sensible approach to the current issues on the international agenda, including the situation in Ukraine. During the last two years all three Pakistani governments demonstrated constructive position, and restrained from baseless accusations and irresponsible rhetoric.”
According to him, Russia, from its own side, did not try to interfere or in any way influence the domestic matters in Pakistan. “We will never act as our Western ‘partners’ and the unelected white-collar establishment from the international financial institutes such as the IMF, who dictate how Pakistan should shape its internal policy.”
He explained that the West’s policies aimed at trying to slow down the course of history would only give rise to more confrontational situations and challenges for the international community.
“The emerging Russia-Pakistan partnership is a graphic example of the mutual aspiration for a democratic and fair world order based on international law, and not on some vague Western ‘rules’. We can achieve considerable progress, and greatly contribute to each other’s economic development and regional security.”
KU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Khalid Mahmood Iraqi said Pakistan-Russia ties were tested in different situations during the last seven decades, and mentioned that both countries have historical perspectives.
He emphasised that whatever policies and programmes we design, they must be in view of the requirements and interests of the common people. He mentioned that we have to give importance to economic prosperity, as we have to boost the socio-economic situation of the country.
He said business trade with Russia would always suit Pakistan, and shared that the bilateral trade between the two countries has increased from $567 million in 2021-22 to $760 million this year due to the boost in trade relations.
He added that the way forward for the people of Pakistan is strong partnership in the energy sector in order to have our economy in a much better shape. He also talked about establishing a Russian language centre on campus for students and teachers.
Pakistan Institute of International Affairs honorary secretary Prof Dr Tanveer Khalid said Pakistan and Russia have expressed the desirability of closer cooperation for a balanced multi-polar world.
“Afghanistan, Kashmir and Tajikistan were flash points in the politically volatile regions of central and southern Asia. A new thinking at the security level was promoted that diplomacy instead of war will be used as an option to ensure peaceful resolution of conflicts, and non-traditional security threats such as terrorism, narcotics and drug trafficking, the illegal flow of light weapons, environmental pollution, energy and water conflicts will be taken as opportunities.”
Asst Prof Dr Faisal Javaid of the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science & Technology’s Department of International Relations shared that the relationship between Pakistan and Russia has traversed complex terrains.
“We have witnessed ups and downs during the Cold War era, and the post-war situation opened a new chapter of cooperation and mutual interest,” he said.
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