Pakistan-Russian amity is natural. It was forsaken at the altar of the Cold War. Moreover, America’s quest for Soviet Union’s containment and Pakistan’s need of support against bellicose India resulted in the Pak-US alliance.

Today, the world has changed geopolitically in favour of Pakistan. The time has come for Pakistan-Russian friendship to be solidified. Pakistan’s Chief of Amy Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s visit to Russia was timely and historic. Even earlier, Pakistani Air Chief Marshal had visited Russia.

The geopolitics of Pakistan has often been misunderstood; the time to remedy that has also arrived. In my book, entitled Gwadar on the Global Chessboard, I have already projected the nation’s identity.

Pakistan is a multiregional state and not only South Asian. South Asia is Pakistan’s eastern linkage that is Punjab and Sindh provinces. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the link to Afghanistan and Central Asia, while Kashmir to the northern areas to China and Central Asia. Balochistan is linked to Iran, Turkey, Gulf - Saudi Peninsula and Western Asia.

Its location is globally pivotal. It is located at the crossroads of the historical empires. It is geo-economically a bridge state and geo-strategically the interposing state between multi-regions. A friendly Pakistan is a blessing and a hostile Pakistan is a disaster for any world power with interests in these regions.

To ignore its geostrategic location, its youth bulge demography soaring towards 200 millions and its formidable military-nuclear forces is an act of imprudence. The Americans were the first, Chinese the second and now Russians also appreciate Pakistan’s geopolitical merits. Simultaneously, New Delhi’s propaganda of ‘Shining India’ is fast eroding. Needless to say, the most critical geopolitical state actor in these regions is called Pakistan.

Afghanistan: The US-Nato forces or bulk will be withdrawing from Afghanistan. To establish peace and stability in the war-torn country, the principal player – that is Pakistan – needs to be brought on board.

Meanwhile, the leftover US forces besides interests will be dependent on the Pakistani and Russian logistic supply routes. Indeed, Pak-Russia coordination can help bring peace in Afghanistan. Also, the Chinese are increasing their investments and stakes in it.

Against this backdrop, instability needs to be reduced in Afghanistan and militancy blocked from spreading into Central Asia.

The geo-economic and geo-strategic interests of Russia and Pakistan coincide. Energy should travel southwards towards Pakistan and drugs stopped from being smuggled northwards into Russia. Then leftover US- Nato military presence in Afghanistan do not suit Moscow, Beijing or Islamabad and certainly not Tehran for that matter.

India, which prays for US military longevity in Kabul, is at odds with Pakistan, Russia, China and Iran on that score. Simply because even a small foreign military presence there will keep Afghanistan on the path of war, rather than peace.

Gwadar and Energy – Trade, Transit Grid: The Chinese are arriving in Gwadar. The Russians are also keen to join in. For centuries, the Russians coveted these warm-waters. From my book, I quote: “The quest for warm-waters is a coveted aim since Czarist times.......Russia with its firm anchor in Gwadar can support the Asian hinterland development.” This can join southern Russia to the Arabian Sea.

From the Baltic Sea near Saint Petersburg, to Archangel in the north and Vladivostok in the east to the hemmed in Black Seaports, the Russians need warm-waters. The deep seaport Gwadar could fulfil an old Russian dream. In time, Russia’s gas giant Gazprom will join the energy grid of Asia at Pakistan’s Gwadar.

Russia through the Central Asian States can also use the seaport for trade and transit. Gwadar will bind Pakistan, China, Russia and the Central Asian States. The geo-economic interests of these state actors increasingly coincide with their geo-strategic interests.

A Pakistan-Russian friendship pact could prove to the world that both states stand for peace in the world. They seek prosperity for their people, share common values of equality for all nations, freedom for the people, from the Slavic Heartland to Indus River. Both abhor violence; can jointly fight terrorism, separatism, drugs and other evils.

Indeed, Russia under President Vladimir Putin’s leadership is striving for global peace. Pakistan, unfortunately, has suffered for 11 years due to the war on terror being waged in Afghanistan. Now, Pakistanis ardently seek an end to this long and pointless war. For this, Russia and Pakistan can jointly facilitate an American exit strategy from Afghanistan.

Against this backdrop, an understanding between Russia, Pakistan, USA and China can help achieve peace in Afghanistan. This will radiate peaceful waves from the epicentre of Afghanistan.

Russia and Pakistan can also help create consensus in the Central Asian and West Asian regions for peace and geo-economic bonding.

Pakistan-Russian geopolitical understanding is not directed against anyone. Pakistan can maintain its old friendship with USA and strategic partnership with China, while Russia has its traditional relations with India. Still new friendship between Pakistan and Russia will not only benefit both, but also contribute to peace and prosperity in the world.

The writer is a retired brigadier  and has authored a book titled Gwadar on the Global Chessboard.


Blog: wwwpakistangeopolitics.