Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, after visiting India, proceeded to Pakistan where he met(April 07) Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. This was the first visit by a Russian foreign minister since 2012.
According to Qureshi, both sides discussed (i) the situation in Afghanistan; (ii) enhancing cooperation within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization; and (iii) deepening friendship and expanding relations in diverse areas including trade, economy, counter-terrorism and defence. Lavrov stated that Russia was (i) committed to promote bilateral cooperation with Pakistan; (ii) discuss a new protocol to expedite the construction of the Karachi-Lahore Gas Pipeline; and (iii) ready to augment Pakistan’s counter-terrorism potential through provision of military equipment.
Lavrov added that both countries had agreed to further facilitate the parties to reach an agreement to put an end to the ongoing civil war in Afghanistan.
Lavrov’s visit gave rise to two divergent opinions – one premised visit meant nothing; the other, that Russia was moving closer to Pakistan and perhaps away from India.
Historically, Pakistan and formerly USSR have shared lukewarm defence ties except for a brief period between 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak conflicts, when following sanctions by the USA, Pakistan turned to USSR, who supplied military equipment worth US$310 mn. This fledgeling relationship was cut short bySoviet support to India in the 1971 Indo-Pak war and Soviet intervention in Afghanistan (1979).
After Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan (1989), the USA curtailed aid to Pakistan under the Symington and Pressler Amendments (Oct1990).