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Pak-Russia Rapprochement: Challenges And Prospects
Syed Almas Haider Shah
Pakistan and Russia acted hostile damaging interests of each other during the Cold War and relations suffered from trust deficit afterwards. Interests of Pakistan and Russia start converging after 9/11, when both remained on the same page with regards to the international campaign against Al-Qaeda as they not only expressed strong commitment to root out the terrorism in the region but also provided full support to the U.S. led forces in Afghanistan. Since then both have entered into institutional relationship, formed several bilateral and became part of regional forums to discuss global, regional and bilateral issues. In the backdrop of emerging regional political environment because of U.S./NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, Indian tilt towards the U.S. and West, Ukrainian crisis, bilateral and global convergence, Pakistan and Russia got the opportunity to translate high level engagements into tangible outcome in bilateral relations. Pakistan has supported Russian's observer status in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) reciprocating the fact that Russia supported first observer status of Pakistan at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and later full membership. Pakistan's accession into important regional organization SCO as full member deemed as step forward in Pakistan's relations with Russia. Since the rapprochement between Pakistan and Russia started a decade ago, both countries witnessed a "milestone" defense cooperation pact when a Russia Defense Minister paid an official visit to Pakistan in 45 years; important developments in Pak-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation and Joint Working Group on Energy at Moscow in 2014 took place. Both countries have expressed their readiness to collaborate in the fields of defense, trade, economy, science, technology, agriculture, education and culture to gain new impetus due to continuous high level interaction between the two countries. However, despite the political convergence, institutional and structured ties between the two countries along with some factors will continuously impede fast track implementation of agreed proposals.