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National

March 30, 2018

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President Putin a strategist: A great survivor against all odds

It is internationally well-recognised fact that power is seized with the intention not to relinquish it. Power breeds more power and power is used to overpower the opponents and to prolong the rule.

The election of Vladimir Putin gives him another six years as Russia’s president at the age of 65 and he is the longest serving leader after Joseph Stalin. He will no longer be eligible to run for the presidency in the next elections and till then he will be in power for quarter of a century by 2024. By then Russia’s modern history will have been shaped by this former KGB operative, around whom a personality cult has evolved. On the one hand he has managed to revitalise Russia, giving it once more a leading role in international affairs and making it a force to be reckoned with. He will rub his shoulders with many leaders of the world including President Donald Trump. His intelligence skills will be again in gear to over smart his opponents both at domestic and international fronts.

The world will face many political and diplomatic ups and down and one does not know many more Victor Bouts will be arrested through string operations to embrace Russia but I think the arm race between USA & Russia will continue at the expense of world peace.

There will be counter allegations from both sides with reference to Syria, Iran and Afghanistan. This region has not yet forgotten the low flying drop of Russian arms for Taliban and Northern Alliance via low flying from Iran by world’s most low altitude flying pilot Victor Bouts who is presently undergoing life imprisonment in USA after his extradition from Thailand through a sting operation.

Now once again USA has blamed Russia for supplying arms to Taliban. It looks like as if the Cold War between Russia and America has once again started, which would, unfortunately, continue over various international disputes.

The Russian leader President V. Putin is a living legend who started as intelligence operator in 1975 and rose to the rank of Lt. colonel mainly spying in East Germany and held that position for 17 years till 1990. He then returned to St. Petersburg and was appointed deputy Mayor to his mentor, the then Mayor of St Petersburg namely Anatoly Sobchak in 1994.

After the loss of mayor ship by his mentor in 1996, he moved to Moscow where he was appointed as head of the security, commanding the three major security agencies including the KGB. The change of circumstances forced the then President Boris Yeltsin to appoint him as acting president in 2000.visited St Petersburg while I was in exile on invitation of one of my business friends. My friend is well placed businessman who narrated me the story of Mr Putin at my request, as I was really impressed with the rise of Mr Putin. I met a couple of other people in the city and I found almost everybody to be the fan of Mr. Putin. I made out in my two days visit that Mr Putin has developed the skill as to how could one touch the hearts of his people.

I visited the half drowned ship during the World War II from where one gets a chance to see amazing scene of sunset like a big fireball dipping into the ocean.

Russian having amazing past history suffered through the World War II, and then embraced yet another setback of disintegration of Soviet Union under President Gorbachev. The disintegration of Soviet Union was basically result of defeat in Afghanistan followed by collapse of its economy coupled with up roaring of central Asian states. President V Putin had learnt a lot while in St. Petersburg, which basically served as launching pad for his political career. It will not be wrong to say that had he not been the deputy mayor of this city, he would have not been able to become the longest serving leader of Russia. President Putin who, a leader of caliber, has brought the stability to his country. Russia under Putin has not only recovered from the shock of disintegration but it paid USA in the same coin in Iraq and now in Syria. President Putin has become living political visionary and he has the art to deal well with his opponents.

I happened to meet him in one of the international conferences as Interior Minister of Pakistan and observed him closely and found him to be a deep and mysterious personality. He has used his Intel skills like senior Bush who was also an ex -Intel.

The analysis shows that his success lies in allowing the various syndicates and mafias operating their way in the beginning till he took them into full grip and then he handled them with iron hand and subsequently brought all the institutions under his direct control.

The world is terming Putin as dictator and some blame that he won his election with rigging. The reality will be out one day. I, however, think that he is a big political scientist of the present times and he has understood his people well. He has gained the confidence of masses with his caliber, which he is strengthening with the passage of time. The witch-hunt between USA and Russia would continue both at state and people level at the cost of their diplomatic and people to people contact.

Let us now overview the present and future relations between Russia and Pakistan in the presence of many challenges for president Putin both at home and abroad.

There are several factors, which have brought Pakistan and Russia closer, including US quest for hegemony in the region, longer presence and continuation of war in Afghanistan, as well as US President Donald Trump’s aggressive posture against Pakistan. President Putin considers Pakistan as highly important for the stabilisation of Afghanistan and for the regional peace, Russian rightly believes that the problem of Afghanistan cannot be solved without the constructive involvement of Pakistan and Iran.

Both Russia and Pakistan are collaborating at the moment in the energy sector as well. On October 16, 2015 Pakistan and Russia signed an agreement to build a $2 billion pipeline. The North-South gas pipeline, with a capacity of 12.4 billion cubic meters per year, would connect the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in Karachi to Lahore. The agreement was signed during the first visit by a Russian Energy Minister to Pakistan in three decades, and marked a new beginning in commercial ties between the two countries. The 1,100 kilometer pipeline is expected to be completed by 2018.

In addition to that, both Moscow and Islamabad have enhanced military to military relations. The first ever joint military exercise, Druzbha (a Russian word meaning “friendship”), was conducted between the two armies in September 2016. Russia also participated in the Aman-17 international naval exercise hosted by Pakistan in the Arabian Sea in February 2017.

In addition, on July 3, 2017 Russia’s Gazprom International and Pakistan’s Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Moscow. The MoU is aimed at mutual cooperation, joint ventures and use of state of the art technology that would aid exploration and development in Pakistan. This positive shift of policy has happened during the tenure of President Putin and I feel Russia would attach more importance to Pakistan in the future.

If the USA hostile and anti-Pak policies continued then I foresee a nuclear block in making consisting of Russian-China-Pakistan.

Pakistan should not lose the opportunity to be friendlier with Russia by expanding its areas of cooperation with Russia based on mutual interest and confidence. I feel that President Putin would play his vital role further to enhance friendship with Pakistan.

In the end I would like to say that President V Putin is a doer and will not only survive but also he would continue to be a big challenge for the West and he would keep the fellow world powers on their toes.

The writer is Chairman of think tank “global eye” & former Interior Minister of Pakistan. @Email: [email protected] .com, Twitter @Senrehmanmalik, @GlobalEye_GSA, WhatsApp +923325559393

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