Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov:
What is behind their hesitation about strengthening ties to Pakistan?
Kayani Visit to Kremlin Shows Pakistan Open to
Non-U.S. Options (The Daily Jang, Pakistan)
ties to the U.S. have been under strain for months. The visit indicates that Pakistan
may be ready to look at options other than Washington. That could be useful in
shaking America's belief that Islamabad has no choice but to lean on it for
advice and assistance and demonstrate that Pakistan is capable of seeking out
Pakistan's Chief of the Army Staff General Kayani: His mission to Moscow is to ease Russian concern that the Pakistan military is scuttling efforts to bring peace to the troubled region of Balochistan, which is split among Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.
The visit to Moscow by Chief of the Army Staff General Kayani is regarded as significant for many reasons. In the
first place, there is the timing. Pakistani ties to the U.S. have been under
strain for months. The visit indicates that Pakistan may be ready to look at
options other than Washington. That could be useful in shaking America's belief
that Islamabad has no choice but to lean on it for advice and assistance and
demonstrate that Pakistan is capable of seeking out new friends. This is undoubtedly
needed in a world in which it seems ever more likely that Pakistan is being isolated.
Looking eastward for allies makes increasingly good sense, given that Russia
and other states in the region are positioned to offer aid in the form of
energy or training. And from a military perspective, the fact that Russia is a
major weapons seller will also be of interest to General Kayani:
Russia holds 24 percent of the global market, while the U.S. holds 30 percent.
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This will also be of interest in Russia, as it seeks new customers
and reconsiders relations with India, which has gradually moved into the U.S.
camp. Both Pakistan and Russia share an interest in Afghanistan.
Kayani's visit is yet more
significant. President Putinís scheduled visit to Pakistan earlier in the month
was canceled due to "other engagements," with reports suggesting that
he and his aides were wary of the Pakistan military's policy making role. Kayani, who has spoken of the need for a political process
to settle affairs in Balochistan, can ease Russian concerns
on this point. This would help build a bridge between our two countries, both
of which would benefit greatly from moving toward cooperation.
[Editor's Note: Greater Balochistan takes up parts of three countries: Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. All three countries are involved in ongoing strife with Balochistan nationalists who want to unify the three regions, those who wish to remain part of their respective countries, and those using Balochistan as a base for attack on neighboring countries. There are a wide range of candidates in this last category. It is one of the most complicated regions in the world.]
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