How Russia came to Pakistan’s help

By Kamran Yousaf

Russian President Vladimir Putin. PHOTO: REUTERS


Authorities sitting in the corridors of power in both Islamabad and Rawalpindi already knew
that the Afghan strategy the Trump administration was crafting would target Pakistan.
However, even they were not expecting Trump to single out and threaten Pakistan.

The unprecedented broadside launched by President Donald Trump in his August 21 speech
left Pakistan reeling and compelled it to approach its allies in order to punch back.

One of the first countries that came to Pakistan’s aid was Russia, which expressed its reser-
vations over the new US Afghan strategy. In addition, Moscow warned Washington that
‘putting pressure on Pakistan’ could seriously destabilise the region and result in negative
consequences for Afghanistan.

A day earlier, China had issued a similar statement, but that was inevitable given its long-
standing strategic ties with Pakistan.

The big takeaway from Pakistan’s diplomatic initiative was to elicit instant support from
Russia, said a senior foreign office official, who gave a rare insight into how Islamabad
managed to take Moscow on board.

The official, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune that
Pakistan approached Russia immediately after Trump made his Afghan strategy speech.

“We informed them (Russia) through diplomatic channels that Pakistan needs their support
at this critical juncture,” the official revealed.

On Pakistan request, Russia agreed to show solidarity with Islamabad. The official’s account
reveals an unprecedented level of cooperation between two countries which had remained
rivals at the peak of the cold war.

Within two days of Trump unveiling his Afghan roadmap, Russian Presidential Envoy to
Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov termed Pakistan “a key regional player to negotiate with”.

Kabulov added that putting pressure [on Pakistan] may seriously destabilise the regional
security situation and result in negative consequences for Afghanistan.

“This is just a start. You would see more such manoeuvres in the coming weeks,” the official
said while claiming that contrary to public perception, Pakistan was not sitting idle amid the
evolving regional situation.

Pakistan has already launched a diplomatic push to seek regional consensus on the Afghan
endgame. For this, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif travelled to China, Iran and Turkey.

According to the foreign office spokesperson, those visits yielded ‘positive results’ as con-
sensus had been achieved that solution to Afghan’s lingering conflict could only be found
through political processes and not through the use of force.

As part of the diplomatic outreach, the foreign minister is scheduled to meet his Russian
counterpart on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session this week.

Relations between Islamabad and Moscow have seen steady growth in recent years.

The two countries buried their cold war era differences and now have been recalibrated
their options in view of the ever-changing geopolitical situation as well as new alignments
in the region.

Source:tribune.com.pk, Published: September 18, 2017

China, Russia defend Pakistan against Trump

KARACHI: In a fast changing geo-political scenario, Pakistan find itself in a strong position after US President Donald
Trump's scathing comments against Islamabad in Afghan policy statement earlier this week.

Trump, unveiling his Afghanistan strategy this week, said Pakistan was playing a double
game by accepting American aid while giving safe haven to “Agents of chaos” who kill Afghan
and NATO troops.

Soon after Trump’s criticism, China issued a strong message defending Pakistan’s role in
Afghanistan and asked the global community to acknowledge Islamabad’s sacrifices in war
against terrorism.

Reinforcing its stance, China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi in a phone call told US Secretary of
State Rex Tillerson to ‘value Pakistan's role in Afghanistan and respect its security concerns’.

"We must value Pakistan's important role on the Afghanistan issue, and respect Pakistan's
sovereignty and reasonable security concerns," Chinese media quoted Yang as saying.

Russia echoed a similar sentiment. Russian Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov
lambasted Trump’s Pakistan strategy and insisted that Islamabad is “a key regional player
to negotiate with.”

“Putting pressure [on Pakistan] may seriously destabilize the region-wide security situation
and result in negative consequences for Afghanistan,” the Russian presidential envoy to
Kabul said.

Pakistan is mulling a formal response to Trump’s statement and new Afghan policy in a high-
level security meeting at the Prime Minister House.

Source:The News,August 24.2017

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