In another sign of strengthening ties between Pakistan and Russia, officials have announced that efforts to collaborate in the fields of art and culture will be increased.
After decades of cool relations between Islamabad and Moscow, the tide is slowly turning. Pakistan has entered into a new era of improved relationships with multiple world powers, trading its reliance on the United States for newly productive relationships with the U.S., China and Russia. According to APP one area of cooperation is art and culture.
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Officials intend to deepen cultural cooperation
On Monday Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Pervaiz Rashid announced that efforts to collaborate in the fields of art and culture would be redoubled. The announcement came as Rashid spoke with the Russian Minister for Culture Vladimir Medinsky, who inaugurated the “Territory of Culture” exhibition in Pakistan.
The exhibition forms part of the 4th Saint Petersburg International Cultural Forum, which runs from 14-16 December. Medinsky told Rashid about the richness of Russia’s cultural heritage and outlined the Kremlin’s plans to preserve and promote it around the world.
Rashid later praised the Russian government for its efforts to promote understanding, peace and stability around the world. He said that Pakistan and Russia should work to improve cultural exchanges between the two nations, and Medinsky later agreed that the cultural forum could lead to meaningful cooperation.
Gas pipeline deal provides further evidence of improving relations
Last Friday the two nations signed a deal for the construction of a North-South gas pipeline. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and Pakistan’s Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi completed the deal, which will see a gas pipeline built between Karachi and Lahore.
Russian company RT-Global Resources, a part of Russian State Corporation Rostec, will be responsible for construction. Upon completion the 1,100 kilometer pipeline will be capable of carrying 1.2 billion cubic feet of gas through a 42-inch diameter pipe.
Under the terms of the deal Moscow will invest $2 billion in the project, which will be completed by December 2017. RT-Global Resources will operate the pipeline for the first 25 years, after which it will be passed over to the Pakistani government.
“The project will take cooperation between Russia and Pakistan to a new level,” Novak said.
Pakistan seeks foreign investment to fix energy issues
Poor energy infrastructure has dogged Pakistan for decades and held back economic growth. Foreign businesses have been known to leave Pakistan due to frequent power outages which affect production and eat into profits.
Under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Pakistan is looking for foreign investment in its natural gas, electricity and petroleum sectors. The government hopes to shore up its gross domestic product by solving some of its energy woes, and the new pipeline should help to do so.
At the same time Pakistan is also collaborating with China on a huge solar power plant, which is the largest in the world. Even in the energy sector there is evidence of Pakistan’s multi-polar approach to international relations.
Islamabad has managed to maintain its historically close relationship with China while at the same time encouraging stronger ties with Russia, which is traditionally an ally of India. The geopolitical situation in Asia remains complicated, but with increasingly warm bilateral ties between major regional powers there remains a hope that the region can shake off long-term enmities in favor of peace and prosperity.