Pakistan, Russia Sign ‘Defense Treaty’ –Salient Feature of South Asia’s Geopolitical Environment

May 12, 2018 (DESPARDES/PKONWEB) — Foreign Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan has revealed that Pakistan and Russia have signed a defense treaty. He however gave no further details of the pact while talking to a private news TV channel.

The announcement comes as the bitter cold-war rivals recalibrate their ties against the backdrop of realignments in the region.

Talking to the electronic media, Dastgir who also holds the portfolio of Defense, said relations between Pakistan and Russia are strengthening day by day — counterterrorism, trade and investment are already on the table.

The Moscow-Islamabad security partnership has become a salient feature of South Asia’s geopolitical environment, The Diplomat reports.

Dastgir, while clarifying Pak-US relations as it stands now, said despite threats by the United States, Pakistan wants to maintain good relations with it. He said US wants to pressurize Pakistan by using different tactics, reported Radio Pakistan.

A senior Pakistani defense official said Pakistan and Russia signed a defense MoU sometime after it was first submitted to Moscow in 2013. “I don’t know about the current pact”.

Last month, Russia’s top military official said Pakistan is a ‘geo-strategically important’ country and announced “it is keen to expand its existing military-to-military cooperation” — it is a significant development at a time when Islamabad’s relationship with Washington continues to deteriorate.

The Russian offer to expand defense and security ties with Pakistan came during Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s visit to Moscow. The defense treaty might have been signed then or thereafter, one Pakistani analyst said on condition of anonymity.

The notable outcome of the meeting was the acknowledgement by the top Russian military commander for Pakistan’s achievement in the fight against terrorism and contribution for regional peace and stability.

This was in contrast to the US’ position which since Trump came to the White House has repeatedly accused Pakistan for not doing enough.

Russia was one of the first countries (including China), which publicly expressed its solidarity with Pakistan after President Donald Trump unveiled a new strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia in summer of 2017.

The visit of the army chief was the latest in a series of high-level exchanges between the former Cold War rivals.

In February, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif visited Moscow to garner Russia’s support after Trump pressurized Pakistan to do more.

Then the defense minister also visited Moscow. And more recently National Security Adviser Lt-Gen (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua traveled to Russia.

The flurry of visits suggested a new push by Pakistan to diversify its foreign policy options after the US expanded its cooperation and strategic ties with India.

The paradigm shift in Pak-Russia ties reflects the new strategic realities that necessitate adjustments and realignments, while maintaining a delicate balance, the analyst said.

However, having “increased cooperation with Russia and China doesn’t necessarily require Pakistan to shut the doors to the US and its Western allies,” said Kamran Yousuf, a senior correspondent of local daily The Express Tribune in Islamabad.

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