On April 18, 2019, the Valdai Club hosted an expert discussion, titled “Prospects of Pakistan in Modern World Development and Russian-Pakistani Relations”, with the participation of prominent experts from the two countries in the field of defence, economics and transport. The participants discussed a wide range of bilateral relations issues and partnerships within the framework of Greater Eurasia.
Cooperation between Moscow and Islamabad got a new boost after Pakistan joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. This reflects a rebalancing of international relations, which is in the interests of both Russia and Pakistan. As one of the Pakistani experts said, under the conditions of one superpower’s dominance after the end of the Cold War, the imbalance of forces became too obvious, overt and brazen. Today, the non-Western centres of power are beginning to play an increasing role in the formation of a new world order.
Russia and Pakistan are striving to establish a genuine, strategic relationship. The Pakistani side highly appreciated Russia’s objective and balanced role during the recent conflict with India and stressed its interest in further cooperation within the SCO. Relations between the two countries in different areas are improving, particularly military-technical cooperation, which is a new field. Cooperation in the field of science and education was also discussed. According to one of the Pakistani experts, the priorities for his country are research in the fields of information technology and artificial intelligence. However, social sciences also play an important role, allowing people to build relationships and share ideas. His Russian colleague stressed that the two countries are faced with the task of improving their images and stabilising perceptions with respect to public opinion.
One of the areas where interaction between the two countries is of key importance is restoring peace in Afghanistan. Historically, contradictions regarding the Afghan issue soured relations between Pakistan and the USSR, but today the positions of Moscow and Islamabad are quite similar. For Pakistan, the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan has been a source of many problems for more than forty years, including refugees, instability in border areas, illegal supplies of weapons and drugs. The stabilisation of Afghanistan is in its interests, as well as in the interest of Russia. Both states are concerned about the fate of Afghanistan after the final US troops withdraw from the country. According to Pakistani experts, priorities in a peaceful settlement include reducing violence from all sides (including the United States, which continues to carry out drone strikes) and negotiations on the revision of the constitution, which was adopted after the US invasion.
The participants agreed that the Russian-Pakistani relations should be viewed in a broad context, taking into account the role and interests of other new great powers, and expressed hope that they would become one of the important elements in Greater Eurasia.