Lavrov From Russia With Love Visits Pakistan

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“We discussed in detail (the) situation of Asia Pacific. Uncertain processes that are happening. US is pushing certain constructs in the region. We are categorically against new division lines,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in Islamabad.

“Russian are against this new strategic alignment against China,” says foreign affairs observer and Ambassador G R Baloch.

“China and Russia have come very close…unfortunately I see clouds of military confrontation between the two axis if diplomacy is not give a chance,” adds Mr. Baloch.

Lavrov traveled to Pakistan’s capital from New Delhi on Wednesday, and is the first senior Russian leader to visit Islamabad in almost a decade.

The Russian foreign minister’s mention of a) situation in Asia Pacific, b) uncertain processes, c) U.S. pushing certain constructs in the region, and d) new division lines is “a cracking cold war story developing decades later again,” an analyst in the region says.

On Soviet -Pak relations, although it may seem like a new development, both states have, since Soviet collapse, sought to maintain a balanced
approach. Over the past two decades, approaches have varied for both actors. After 9/11, both Russia and Pak aided US operations against al-Qaeda and later, Taliban. US intel, covert air ops and SOF used Pak bases for targeting Afghan aim-points. Pak allowed Karachi-Torkham route for US logistics. Russia allowed its airspace and Central Asian airbases
to be used by US forces. So, indirectly, both Pak and Russia aided US ops. However, after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, and Taliban resurgence from 2006-2007, Pak and Russia were uncomfortable, especially as militant
violence rocked Pak, and US unilateralism troubled Russia. Reports indicated that while the USA and India supported the mainly-Tajik Northern Alliance, Pak and even Russia supported the mainly-Pashtun Taliban.
Pak inclusion in the SCO – alongside India and Iran, raised Pakistan’s regional profile, opening a new formal platform for enhanced ties to
Russia. As India has moved closer to the USA since President Clinton’s 2000 visit, Russia, while still close to Delhi, would certainly wish
to leverage its expanded diplomatic options. With both Sino-Russian and Sino-Pak resonances converging in the SCO, Pak-Russian relations
can only add to the strategic- diplomatic leverage available to both Islamabad and Moscow. In this era of “systemic transitional fluidity”, such added leverage is worth its weight in gold, and all sides know that.

ASIA-PACIFIC based analyst specializing in US-China relations and South Asia affairs.

“We are getting a deeper look into the imagined world created by Ian Fleming in his novels “Live and Let Die”, “From Russia With Love”, etc.”

According to a senior Pakistani defense official, “It’s an important development” that Lavrov in Pakistan is speaking candidly with salt and pepper.

“Russians being a restrained people, the visit is a first public demonstration,” he says. According to an observer, a) Russia’s importance for Pakistan, and b) its concerns regarding the situation in Asia Pacific and the Indo-Pacific Quad (USA, India, Japan and Australia) are on the front burner.

Lavrov also commented about potential supplies of special military equipment to bolster Pakistan’s counter-terrorism capabilities. He also spoke of Russia’s plans to conduct more military and naval exercises with Pakistan and to further deepen bilateral ties.

Lavrov also met Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa and Prime Minister Imran Khan, who raised the Kashmir issue during their talks.

The two cold war foes (now allies) entered into a defense agreement over a decade back and have not looked back over the years.

“Counter-terrorism and Afghanistan in particular brought them closer. Recent developments are bringing the two closer”, says an analyst.

According to the senior Pakistani defense official, “Battle lines (if I am allowed to use the term) are getting clearer and clearer”. He commented on condition of anonymity as he’s not authorized to speak officially.

“A new world order is in the making and so are new blocks in the region, and therefore the blow hot and cold” an observer said.

“The Eastern Block will include China (and BRI influence block), Russia, Iran and Pakistan. The Western block will be the Quad (USA, India, Japan and Australia) and its allies,” says the Pakistani defense official.

And “the Arabs and the Turks are at odds and not still decided,” he adds.

“Arabs will tilt toward China & Russia, if these two counties can become net security provider in the Middle East”.


“All in all interesting times,” he says.

Lavrov at the joint press conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, also alluded to India-Pakistan talks on their disputes –Kashmir is the major one.

A source tells DesPardes that “backdoor diplomacy between the two neighbors is at work.”

Irshad Salim, Islamabad

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