Russia and Pakistan close to new arms deal
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the SCO Summit this week. The discussions were described as “high-level meetings” on regional issues and concerns. PTI announced on Twitter that Khan had an “informal discussion” with Putin at the SCO Summit.
Leading up to the SCO, Khan spoke with Sputnik about how relations between Islamabad and Moscow are developing. He said the two countries have already established a military cooperation between them, and he hopes to “deepen” their contacts. He also said they are considering purchasing weapons from Russia, adding that their military officials are already in contact.
According to The News, Moscow has already said it’s planning to hold military exercises with the Pakistani military this year. Khan also hoped to benefit from Russia’s energy surplus, noting that Pakistan suffers from energy shortages, so he hoped to discuss that issue and improve other areas of trade with Russia.
Loyalty dynamics have changed since the Cold War
During the Cold War, Pakistan was allied with the U.S., while India was allied to the Soviet Union, Khan added. However, the world has moved beyond the Cold War-era, so relations between the four countries are shifting.
As far as what kinds of weapons Pakistan might buy from Russia, a military expert told RT that Islamabad probably has its sights set specifically on tanks, air defense systems and helicopters. He believes Pakistan might want to buy the T-90 main battle tank which has been used in India for more than a decade. He also said the Pakistani military’s tank fleet is in need of an upgrade.
Retired colonel Mikhail Khodarenok also told RT that the military atmosphere in South Asia is changing. He doesn’t believe Russia’s loyalty to its Indian customers has paid off necessarily in the past few years as India has begun getting closer to the U.S. and Europe. Thus, he argues that Moscow “should abandon stereotypes and build closer ties with Pakistan.”
China and Pakistan continue their partnership
Khan also briefly mentioned Pakistan’s partnership with China in the interview with Sputnik. He said once Islamabad saw the U.S. as their “only ally and trading partner,” but China has become a strong partner through its Belt and Road Initiative. According to the Associated Press of Pakistan, Khan said earlier this week that the cooperation between Beijing and Islamabad is a major factor in the region’s stability. He was also appreciative of China’s support for his country.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has pushed for a condition on Islamabad’s bailout package from the International Monetary Fund, calling for a requirement that the money not be used to repay Pakistan’s debts to China. According to Reuters, the China National Nuclear Corp said it has finished the outer dome on its Hualong One reactor in Pakistan. The entire project is expected to be finished by the end of next year. Meanwhile, Beijing continues to invest in Pakistan as part of its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is part of the Belt and Road Initiative. The Diplomat cautioned Pakistan against giving China a monopoly over its energy sector, citing a report form Dawn last year which said Pakistani firms were denied power and other project contracts. For now though, the South Asian nation is grateful for the much-needed help