“Pakistan would continue to play its part to keep conflicts away from the region and seek approaches which bring regional convergences into play rather than divergences”
April 24, 2018 — Russia’s military chief says Pakistan was geostrategically an important country and Moscow is keen to expand its existing military-to-military cooperation– a significant development at a time when Islamabad’s relationship with Washington continues to deteriorate.
In a meeting with Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa who reached Moscow on an official visit Tuesday, the Russian General acknowledged Pakistan’s achievement in the fight against terrorism and contribution for regional peace and stability.
The Pakistan army chief met with Commander Russian Federation Ground Forces, Colonel General Oleg Salyukov at Kremlin Palace.
The Russian announcement at the meeting was in contrast to the US position which since Trump came to the White House has repeatedly accused Pakistan for not doing enough.
While Washington appears to have down played Pakistan’s critical role, Russia thinks otherwise.
“Pakistan is a geostrategically important country and Russia is keen to expand its existing bilateral military to military cooperation,” the Russian Ground Forces Commander said.
General Bajwa thanked the Russian Ground Forces Commander and said Pakistan reciprocated desire for enhanced bilateral military engagements.
He said Russia had recently played a positive role to help resolve complex situations in the region.
He said Pakistan would continue to play its part to keep conflicts away from the region and seek approaches which bring regional convergences into play rather than divergences.
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 pressurised 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.
Stalemate as fresh round of negotiations with US ends
On Monday in Islamabad, another round of Pakistan-United States talks aimed at getting Islamabad to fulfil Washington’s expectations, envisioned in its South Asia and Afghanistan policy, ended without any breakthrough or breakdown, but new issues have been added to the already heavy and complicated agenda.
A senior official of the State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Ambassador Alice Wells visited the capital on Monday on a daylong trip for continuing her talks with Pakistani officials on the US list of expectations. Ambassador Wells met Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua at the Foreign Office. This was her second trip in less than a month. She last visited Pakistan from March 28 to April 3.
Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal only tweeted a picture of Ambassador Wells at the FO with the caption: “FS receives Amb Wells for a call at MOFA today.” No press release was issued on the meeting afterwards.
The US embassy’s statement on the meeting was also unusually very brief. Ambassador Wells “visited Islamabad today for meetings with Foreign Secretary Janjua and other senior officials. In her meetings, she discussed the status of the United States’ South Asia strategy and efforts to make progress on regional security and stability,” the statement read and contained a link to President Trump’s Fort Myers speech in which he unveiled the US Strategy on South Asia and Afghanistan.
The strategy, to quote Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, reflects the intention of the Trump administration “to hold Pakistan accountable for its failure to deny sanctuary to militant proxies” and “encourage(s) restraint in Pakistan’s military nuclear and missile programs, and seek(s) continued, closer alignment of Pakistan’s nonproliferation policies with our own”.
Pakistan daily Dawn cited a diplomatic source saying, ““There was no forward movement. But at the same time we must acknowledge that both sides continue to remain engaged in search of the elusive common ground.”