Russia and Pakistan on Wednesday agreed to cooperate in their fight against terrorism with Moscow promising to supply Islamabad with military equipment, according to reports.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday on a two-day visit. Lavrov held bilateral discussions with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
Lavrov’s Pakistan tour is the first visit by a Russian foreign minister in nine years. According to Pakistani publication Dawn, Lavrov also stressed holding more joint military exercises with Pakistan.
Qureshi took to Twitter saying, “Pleased to welcome Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to the Foreign Office today for excellent meetings. Building multi-dimensional relations with Russia are a key point for Pakistan and we believe a strong relationship contributes to regional stability and global security.”
Economic diplomacy and collaborative efforts in education, strategic stability, and other issues of common interest were also discussed.
We are confident that this visit will give further momentum to our deepening friendship and we remain committed to expanding our relations in diverse areas through further high-level contacts.
🇵🇰 🤝 🇷🇺 pic.twitter.com/3yHKGCT7JQ
— Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) April 7, 2021
“We stand ready to strengthen the anti-terrorist potential of Pakistan, including by supplying Pakistan with special military equipment,” Lavrov said, without giving details about the equipment.
He said an agreement was also reached on conducting additional joint military exercises such as the Arabian Monsoon maritime drill. The Russian foreign minister arrived in Islamabad after concluding his visit to India.
Lavrov’s Pakistan tour assumes significance in the backdrop of the US decision to review the Afghan peace process with the Taliban. Russia has increased its involvement in Afghanistan as Moscow last month had hosted talks between the Taliban and senior government officials. There is a possibility of Russia holding another high-level meeting in this regard.
According to Dawn, Russia had earlier invited Pakistan for a “consultation” rather than a “conference” as stated by Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s presidential envoy to Afghanistan, to settle the situation in Afghanistan. With millions of Afghan refugees seeking shelter in Pakistan, Islamabad has blamed the displaced people from its north-western neighbor for being a safe haven for the Taliban.
The Pakistan-Russia ties had strained during the Cold War period when Pakistan extended support to Afghan armed resistance in the 1980s and sided with the United States. It was only in 2011 when then presidents Dmitri Medvedev and Asif Ali Zardari held some regular meetings that the two countries had seen some recalibration of ties.
Lavrov and Qureshi also discussed the 2015 agreement on the North-South Gas Pipeline Project, linking the port of Karachi to Lahore city. Opportunities for the Russian energy business companies to enter Pakistan’s market to operate for mutual benefits and increase economic trade were focused upon.
Lavrov also separately called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa later in the day.