Over the past few years, an alteration in Pakistan’s foreign policy is quite visible. It has come up with a new alternative for its better relations with major powers other than the US. This shift in policy is remarked as a better option for ensuring development regionally. The pivotal period for regional countries mainly China, Russia and Pakistan triangular forum. In 2011, many events created a space for a fresh start of Pak-Russia relations. The main event of Raymond Davis, US mercenary person who killed two men on Pakistan’s territory. This deteriorated the relations between US and Pakistan. Later on, the deal was struck with affected families and the Pakistani government. A few days later US drone killed two dozen civilians which served as revenge of Raymond Davis as quoted by US state official. Additionally, the occurrence of the Abbottabad raid and killing of Osama bin Laden further weakened the relations. Islamabad was doomed for such action, as US forces infiltrated in its airspace and Pakistan was concerned about its International prestige and also critics regarding its Defense system. Later on, US attack on Army check-post of Salalah killing of 28 armed personnel grew more anti-US sentiments in the civil and military establishment and common public as well. It took seven months for the US to apologize, during this period NATO supply through the country was deferred. Political leaders were demanding their government to minimize its relations with the US. These events led to auxiliary option for Pakistan. At this point, China stirred Islamabad to renew Pak-Russian relations. The then foreign minister Hina Rabbani visited the Moscow where security and other matters of concern were discussed.
This also provided Moscow with an option for better trade and of course defence equipment market as well its keen interest in the energy sector as TAPI gas pipeline accord. In like manner defence liaison between Islamabad and Moscow instigated. In 2014, Russia lifted the Arms embargo on Islamabad. The first-ever joint military drills between both countries Armed forces were remarked as a sign of diplomatic and strategic relations. Likewise, Moscow is considering Pakistan’s role in the future of the Afghanistan peace process. In 2015 Russia connived trilateral meetings for Afghan peace solution. Meanwhile, Russia has also appreciated Pakistan’s efforts against terrorism. The recent talks led by Russia for the peace process in Afghanistan with Taliban leadership, the Afghan government, US and other major countries including Pakistan is an insignia of Russian regional approach and its increasing influence in the region as well.
Government officials of Pakistan who are very optimistic about relations as further development is being made. Officials are paying a visit to Moscow and their seriousness in cooperating at different levels is worth noticing. The visit of Pakistan’s COAS to Russia is seen as an intimation of further strategic relations. But the question here is, will Moscow leave its senior valued ally India in search of a new partner in the region. Secondly, Can Putin who is staunch and rational trust Pakistan. Let time decide this the hopes are all-time high as the new government of PTI has taken over the country with its maiden innings. Khan recent visit to China, an all-weather ally of Pakistan discussing the future of ongoing developmental project under CPEC moreover, khan’s keen interest in Chinese policies of controlling poverty and corruption. Similarly, the sideline meeting of PM with its Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in Shanghai agreed to enhance bilateral relations in diverse areas as well as cooperation on multilateral fora, particularly the Shanghai Cooperation Organization an important forum for further deepening of cooperation in multiple dimensions. The accord between both militaries for the training of Pakistanis Army officers in Russian defence institutions as Pentagon has stopped taking Pakistan’s Army officers for training. Recently the Pakistan and Russia joint exercise Druzhba III in Pabbi mainly focused on counter-terrorism training of special operations forces of Pakistan and Russia, hence increasing the capabilities of armed forces in combating terrorism.
Likewise, China-Pakistan relations are all-time high as huge Chinese investment is coming in the country under CPEC projects. There has been the biggest shift in China-Pak relations after the event of 9/11. China likewise other nation supported the action against terrorism at that point. It has also supported Pakistan’s efforts against terrorism on different forums. Equally, China has a stake in Pakistan and its experts are working in different fields enhancing relationship to further peak point. Projects like Chashma nuclear power plant, Karakoram highway construction and its key role in defence industry has a significant role in bilateral relations.
Recent president Xi project of belt and road initiative connecting more than 60 countries by three different routes under the CPEC project is going on in the country. This has given a different approach, unlike past relations, investing more than $50 billion worth project ranging from infrastructure to industrial development. China is considered a true partner of Pakistan and also a bridge between Islamabad and Moscow relations.
Beside this China’s look after Pakistan because of its better strategic location to counter US influence in the region. Similarly, instability in Xinjiang province can be undertaken this way. The decline in US-Pak relations is also the reason China is taking full advantage by putting such an influence on Pakistan’s policies. A lot Pakistan can benefit from China as much as it can. The Baluchistan province like Xinjiang province is an unstable part and CPEC project which has a main focus on that part can turn the situation in Pakistan’s favour. CPEC comes from Gwadar, a Pearl in CPEC crown and it should be firstly for Baluchistan.
Indebtedness by China on Islamabad’s role in the peace process of Afghanistan is satisfying as Russia is also maximizing its influence in the region and especially Afghanistan. They are in talks with the Taliban as well. Talks held on 9th November in Russia with Taliban leadership including Afghan government, US and other major regional countries is an updated stance of Moscow for an Afghan peace process. The basic emerging threat of ISIS is a cause of concern for Russia, Central Asian states, China, Pakistan and Iran. The reason is what Russia wants to keep ISIS named as ISKP (Islamic state Khurasan province) away mainly effecting Russian backyard of Central Asian States. All Russia can do to secure itself by pushing peace talks and it did, for this Moscow is ready to cooperate with the US.
Going towards US reaction on such steps in a region is also worth seeing as it had moved towards India and different projects including the defence deals have been signed. Sitting US authorities have moved file towards Congress for giving India Apache attack helicopters as in response to Pakistan’s recent deal with Turkey for attack helicopters. India has been also said to move its army in Afghanistan with NATO to have greater influence. Likewise, trump administration has also halted military aid to Pakistan and Pentagon had also stopped taking Army officers for training. Pak-US relations having many constraints are very low at this period of time. Declared US policy of refuting Chinese influence and resurgent Russia, China in a trade war and later facing US sanctions, an act which not only effects the countries like Pakistan but also international trade system. The future visit of US vice-president Mike pence to Asia holding trump message in his hand for those countries who have been influenced by Chinese policies is a resumed start of trump administration’s foreign policy as its attention was domestically engaged in midterm elections.
Looking at all critical circumstances this Triangular alliance to contain US influence is still vague expecting many further developments in US behaviour. As per Putin’s strategy is concerned, deep insight of Moscow’s rationality is to be keenly observed. Besides, it can’t leave such old ally like India and can be seen as a recent defence deal of S-400 state of an art missile defence system and nuclear reactors installation of worth $5billion.Pakistan and Russia will have to work more for mutual trust thus further development can be expected.