Time not ripe for Putin's visit to Pakistan

Islamabad - "The problem is that usually the purpose of the visit is not participation in ceremonies. The visit should have some substance," Russian Ambassador Alexey Dedov said at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), where he was delivering a lecture on Pak-Russian relations.



By Afzal Khan

Published: Sat 19 Mar 2016, 9:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 19 Mar 2016, 11:03 AM

Moscow believes that there are still not enough reasons to justify Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Islamabad, Russian ambassador indicated here.
"The problem is that usually the purpose of the visit is not participation in ceremonies. The visit should have some substance," Russian Ambassador Alexey Dedov said at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), where he was delivering a lecture on Pak-Russian relations.
"As soon as the substance is ready we can discuss the visit," he said and defined the substance as "signing of documents" for cooperation, "preparation of plans" for expanding ties, and "declarations". No Russian or even Soviet president has ever visited Pakistan. President Putin had planned a visit to Islamabad in October 2012 for attending a quadrilateral summit between Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan, but cancelled it at the eleventh hour.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was then hastily despatched to Islamabad to explain the cancellation.
Lately, there was renewed talk of Putin visiting Islamabad after Russia agreed to invest in the $2 billion North-South gas pipeline project for carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Karachi to Lahore. It was being speculated that he could visit Pakistan for performing the groundbreaking ceremony of the project.
Despite the perceived lack of incentive for taking the relationship to a higher plane, Moscow has, nevertheless, kept Pakistan engaged because of strategic and political compulsions, particularly the evolving situation in Afghanistan, terrorism concerns and anti-narcotics collaboration.
The ambassador rued the "unrealised potential" of the ties, but noted that Pakistan was "seen (in Russia) as an important and reliable partner with whom relations could be developed".
He cited the geo-strategic position of Pakistan and challenges and interests shared by the two countries as the motivation for Moscow to work for better and stronger bilateral relations.
 The visit should have some substance
> The problem is that usually the purpose of the visit is not participation in ceremonies. The visit should have some substance.
> No Russian or even Soviet president has ever visited Pakistan.
> President Putin had planned a visit to Islamabad in October 2012, but cancelled the visit at the eleventh hour.
> Moscow has kept Pakistan engaged because of strategic and political compulsions.
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