The Pakistani Ministry of defence today announced that General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of Army Staff will be visiting Russia later this month. As per the announcement, the visit is being taken out upon the invitation of Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, General Nikolai Makarov. Pakistani media reported that the exact timing of the trip hasn’t been fixed yet, but hinted that it will happen before the scheduled visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is expected to arrive in Islamabad on October 2.
The Pakistani President, Asif Ali Zardari had visited Moscow on 11th May 2012, to discuss various regional issues with his Russian counterpart. The two also held talks regarding the BMRE (Balancing, Modernization, Revamping and Expansion) for the armed forces, as well as the possible Russian technological support for the expansion of the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM). Zardari had recently announced that the enhancement of the Russo-Pakistani defence cooperation is one of his prime targets.
Putin is expected to arrive in Pakistan on October 2, for a two-day visit. Regional issues such as terrorism, security, business relations, and economic cooperation are likely to be taken up during the talks between Putin and Zardari. On October 3rd, Pakistan will be hosting a top level quadrilateral summit, in which the heads of state from Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan will attend. The main focus of the summit will be the prevention of terrorism in the Central Asian region.
The diplomatic relations between Russia and Pakistan has remained strained, ever since the 1960s when Pakistan aligned itself with the US side during the cold war. The situation was worsened following the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Pakistan provided refuge and support for the Afghan rebels, who were engaged in a bloody war against the Soviet occupiers for almost one decade.
Even after the breakup of the Soviet Union, the diplomatic relations between Russia and Pakistan remained more or less indifferent. However, the recent frictions in the US-Pak relations seems to have forced Pakistan to mend bridges with the Eurasian nation, which is looking forward to expand its presence in the Central and Southern Asia.