In The Name of Allah, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful
Honourable chair of the seminar Senator Akram Zaki, esteemed speakers; Honourable Air Marshal Masod Akhtar sahib, Honourable Khalid Khattak sahib former Ambassador of Pakistan to Russia, Honourable Dr Mohammad Khan, Honourable Anton Chernov the first secretary of Embassy of Russian Federation, Honourable delegates and respected participants
Assalam o Alaikum & good afternoon
Ladies and gentlemen! On behalf of MUSLIM Institute, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to this seminar “Prospects of Pak Russia Bilateral Relations”. I also warmly welcome our all Excellencies Ambassadors of different diplomatic missions in Pakistan and am thankful to the Russian mission in Pakistan for sending their representatives to the seminar. The purpose of arranging this seminar is to delve into and explore different aspects and avenues of mutual cooperation between Pakistan and Russia that share same region.
We can safely say, that there have been many missed opportunities in the past for establishing cordial and strong bilateral relations between Russia and Pakistan; however there do exist sporadic episodes in the past of mutual cooperation in multiple sectors; worth mentioning are technical and financial assistance extended by Russia in setting up Pakistan Steel Mills Karachi, Oil and Gas Development Company limited till date uses Russian machinery in exploring oil and gas in Pakistan; Russia has previously supplied transport helicopters for Pakistan’s defense needs. On its part, Pakistan has been the first state to recognize Russia as legal successor of USSR. These developments indicate that there is immense potential of warm relations between the two nations.
Ladies and Gentlemen! Pak Russian cooperation is not entirely a new concept. There have been efforts and contacts at the highest government levels in the recent past which have facilitated a thaw in Pak-Russian relations. In the recent years there have been a number of high profile visits from both sides aimed at improving Pak Russia ties.
These include visit of Russian prime minister in 2007, visit of the Pakistani president in 2011, Russian Foreign minister’s visit in 2012 and Defense Minister’s visit in last November, Pakistan’s Finance Minister paid visit to Russia in November last year. Speaker National Assembly of Pakistan along with parliamentary delegation visited Russia in May last year.
We are observing a renewed zeal for the promotion of bilateral relations, demonstrated in Russian and Pakistani governments expressing willingness to work together on mutually beneficial basis in different areas including infrastructure and energy projects; this has resulted in Russia offering to invest in the Energy sector of Pakistan and export 5000 Mega Watt of electricity through Kyrgyz-Afghan route. Bilateral trade between the two countries has jumped from 92 million$ in 2003 to 550 million$ in 2013. Currently, Pakistan’s major export items to Russia include woven cotton fabrics, synthetic fabrics, articles of apparel, medical and surgical instruments, rice, fruit and vegetables. In last December there was a penning down of 1.7 billion$ energy deal between the two countries for laying LNG pipeline.
We are experiencing an era of change, the world is undergoing a very visible transformation, and this can be considered a prime time for Pakistan and Russia to gradually and robustly improve their relations. However, we do believe that improvements of bilateral relations should not be carried out at the expense of their current relations with other allies and countries. We believe that in the globalized world relations with all the key players of world especially in the region should be promoted.
Russia has bounced back as an international power and an important player in the regional and international politics after the break-up of Soviet Union. Pakistan can learn a lot from this resurgence of Russia; to understand the development and implementation of strategic policies that have impacted the positive growth of Russia.
Furthermore, both the countries can benefit from each other in various sectors. Pakistan can benefit from Russia from its technical breakthroughs and advancement in space, military and civilian technology; oil and precious minerals and metal exploration, their subsequent mining, extraction, processing and refinement. Pakistan on the other hand, is an excellent source of raw materials, agricultural produce, cheap skilled, unskilled and technical manpower, finished and unfinished textile and leather products. People to people contact between two nations can bring lot of new avenues of mutual benefits. The same can be attained through cultural exchanges as well as exchange programs of students, academicians, professionals, experts and parliamentarians. The above are just a few avenues, there are many many more.
Ladies and gentlemen! Setting the theme of the Seminar, our esteemed speakers shall give their views on various initiatives and commonalities of shared benefits from which both countries can reap significant returns provided that there is a consistency in the policy of positive momentum and continuous growth. This would promote bilateral trade, economic cooperation and regional connectivity through multilateral frameworks.
Thank you very much.