The Russian leader’s optimism about the future of bilateral relations with Pakistan reinforces the position of his Foreign Ministry and serves as proof of Moscow’s political maturity.
The US-orchestrated post-modern coup that was carried out against former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in early April prompted very serious concerns that this geostrategically positioned South Asian state’s foreign policy will decisively change and thus complicate the global systemic transition to multipolarity in this part of Eurasia. While it’s true that the country has since slipped into a state of quasi-isolationism despite its representatives’ rhetoric to the contrary, the silver lining is that it’s so far resisted American pressure to reduce its relations with Great Powers like Russia, China, and Iran.
That in and of itself is a major accomplishment considering the pessimistic predictions that swirled around the time that its multipolar leadership was unexpectedly ousted, though it would of course have been better had that not happened at all. Nevertheless, this state of affairs suggests that members of the multipolar school of thought within that Pakistani Establishment have exerted positive influence over their pro-American peers to ensure that the latter’s foreign policy doesn’t shift too radically. For that reason, Russia isn’t giving up hope about reviving its now-stalled rapprochement with Pakistan.
The fast-moving and comprehensive expansion of their relations over the past half-decade was suddenly frozen in the aftermath of that country’s regime change, though thankfully none of their impressive prior progress was reversed. The Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline (PSGP), which was supposed to be the flagship megaproject that would herald the advent of a truly strategic partnership between these former rivals, hasn’t been scuttled and is still on the table. Furthermore, the Pakistani Ambassador to Russia reaffirmed in early June that his country still wants to expand relations with Moscow.
This sets the backdrop against which the Kremlin just made two back-to-back statements about Pakistan. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a message on the eve of that country’s 75th Independence Day celebrations that can be interpreted as conveying Moscow’s understanding of its partner’s present problems but expressing hope that prior talks on the PSGP and other areas of mutually beneficial cooperation will soon be revived whenever Islamabad feels comfortable doing so.
The second came the day after and was from President Putin himself, who said the following: “Relations between our countries are at a high level. Russia and Pakistan are actively cooperating bilaterally and in various multilateral formats, including in counter-terrorism and the Afghan direction. I am confident that our joint efforts will provide further building of the whole range of constructive Russian-Pakistani ties for the good of our peoples and in interests of strengthening regional security and stability.”
The Russian leader’s optimism about the future of bilateral relations with Pakistan reinforces the position of his Foreign Ministry and serves as proof of Moscow’s political maturity. The Kremlin didn’t overreact to its partner’s prior multipolar government being overthrown by US proxies but instead wisely waited to see whether this would result in Islamabad unilaterally worsening relations or not. That non-ideological and hyper-pragmatic approach is equally responsible for preserving their ties.
After all, it proverbially takes two to tango, which his why both Pakistan and Russia deserve credit for neither of them doing anything to roll back the prior progress that they made over the past half-decade throughout the course of their rapid rapprochement. While relations could be better, especially had the PSGP already been finalized and thus begun construction by now, they still aren’t bad by any measure since all earlier achievements have been retained in spite of everything.
It’s too early to predict when the pace of their rapprochement will resume, but President Putin isn’t losing hope that this will inevitably happen, ideally sooner rather than later. His optimism about this scenario as evidenced by the upbeat telegram to that country’s President and Prime Minister on Pakistan’s 75th anniversary of independence suggests that the future of bilateral relations remains bright, even if it’ll still take some time for Islamabad to become comfortable taking their ties further.