Revival of Pak-Russia ties

rrPosted by Faheem Belharvi

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 – The fact that the political leadership of both Russia and Pakistan seems determined enough to add new life to their mutual relationship and widen up their circle of cooperation and interdependence, the over-all situation, realistically-speaking, remains in the doldrums. This entails a dire need of revamping and accelerating track two diplomacy between the two countries so as to probe into the grey areas that are the potent cause of friction between the two, and hence need to be deliberated upon by both the sides if they are to refurbish their relations making them “productive” in the truest sense of the word.

“Track II diplomacy”, simply put, means an informal or unofficial diplomacy whose predominant aim is to supplement “track one diplomacy” (official, state-sponsored diplomacy) by playing its part in rendering the prevalent scheme of things more conducive to the success of formal talks between the countries.

As far as the modus operandi of track two dialogues is concerned, there is no distinctly defined procedure. Activities, that range from one-step action to long-term endeavors, which can safely be enumerated among the ways in which track two diplomacy takes place are: workshops conducted by regional research centers or some non-governmental organizations, cultural activities which serve to highlight a softer image of the countries involved , joint re-examination of historical events, informal meetings of the political and military intelligentsia of the countries concerned.

Pakistan-Russia relations albeit apparently normal since the independence of Pakistan have never been truly cordial as such because of the former’s alignment with the US, as against the Soviet Union (USSR) in the then-existing bipolar structure of international power, right from its maiden years as a newly-emerged state, and ever since it is considered an American proxy in the region. Hence, traditionally, Pakistan used to view Soviet Union from the lens of the US. There did prevail, in Pakistan, a sense of apprehension as well regarding Soviet Union’s expansionist tendency so much so that Pakistan felt its very existence under an imminent threat, more so because of its defiant and aggressive eastern neighbor (India) which, at that time, seemed ready to take benefit out of the power disparity existing between the two.

Another factor that divested Pakistan-Russia relations of warmth from the very inception of their relationship was the factor that Pakistan had won independence mainly in the name of Islam and with the avowed objective of making the country an Islamic welfare state, and there certainly was a general ideological antagonism of Muslims toward the very phenomena of Communism often considered to be, conceptually, an antithesis to what Islam stands for. In case of Russia and Pakistan, the respective political leadership has full support of most of the progressive-minded, moderate people of their country who are also well-versed with the changing dynamics of the post-modern world whose subsistence and progress is largely dependent upon the extent of inter-state cooperation and conciliation.

Therefore, in particular context of Russia and Pakistan, all the various activities of track two diplomacy are likely to bear the fruit of bringing about a substantial change in mindset of the ruling elite, facilitating them in the process of identification their previous errors of judgment and sensitizing them to the urgent need of re-orienting their relationship so as to diversify and multiply, and to make the most of the available options of mutual cooperation and interdependence.

(Mehreen Baloch—Masters in English Literature from University of the Punjab, Lahore).

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