October 2, 2023

Imran Khan ‘first Pakistani PM’ to visit Russia in two decades

It may be recalled that Nawaz Sharif was the last Pakistani Prime Minister to visit Moscow in 1999.

imrankhan_vladimir putin

 The announcement was made on Monday by a senior member of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet.

Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to become the first Pakistani head of government to visit Russia in two decades as he prepares to pay an official visit to the country this month.

Relations between the two countries soured during the Cold War days after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Pakistan sided with the United States during this period and aided the Afghan resistance in guerrilla warfare.

 The two sides have sought to broaden and deepen their ties in recent years, with Russia lifting a long-standing arms embargo imposed on Pakistan decades ago in 2014.

It may be recalled that Nawaz Sharif was the last Pakistani Prime Minister to visit Moscow in 1999.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in a statement that “our relations with Russia are gradually improving. Now Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited Prime Minister Imran Khan to visit Russia and Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Moscow this month.

“I think our relations with Russia are undergoing a pleasant change,” he added.

Pakistan’s growing diplomatic engagement with Russia is thought to be part of an effort to diversify its foreign policy.

Last year, the two countries formally signed a revised intergovernmental agreement for the flagship pipeline project undertaken by Russia, which would merge Pakistan’s Punjab province with Karachi.

The project, formerly known as the North-South Pipeline, is now known as the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline Project, which will deliver liquefied natural gas imported from Pakistan’s coastal areas to the industrial areas of Punjab.

In September 2021, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Pakistan and held extensive talks on bilateral relations and regional and global issues.

A statement issued by the Pakistani Foreign Office following Lavrov’s visit said, “Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, in a meeting with his Russian counterpart in Islamabad, emphasized the need to strengthen relations with the Russian Federation. Building is a top priority of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

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