From Russia, with love

Published: July 3, 2012

Russia has offered to become our new friend.

At a time when Pakistan and the United States are not enjoying good relations, due to stoppage of the Nato supply routes, Russia has come up with a plan to provide Pakistan financial and technical assistance, needed for its energy problems such as the Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-Iran (TAPI) pipeline project, the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline and the (CASA-1000) power import project.

Is it a revival of relations between Pakistan and Russia to recover the trust lost during the war in Afghanistan in Ziaul Haq’s era? Whatever may be the reason; Russian cooperation with Pakistan will not only revive relations but will also balance Pakistan’s foreign policy.

Russia is a new friend, initiating to help Pakistan overcome its dilemma of energy shortage. The problem of energy crisis in Pakistan is a mammoth one and we should welcome all help, including Russia’s, for extending support for long-term gas and power import projects planned to avoid energy failures in the years to come.

Russia has offered to make available $500 million for the CASA-1000 MW power import project, to establish a power transmission system from Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The offer came during a meeting of a six-member delegation of the Russian Federation.

China and Russia are the only countries who have expressed an interest to support the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project despite pressure from the US that wants this project to be shelved due to its tense relations with Iran.

Pakistan’s entire energy system is predicted to collapse in case there is no more gas by 2020. Local gas production is projected to decline to 2.26 billion cubic feet gas per day (bcfd) in 2020-21, against the current 4.17 bcfd production.  Gas pipeline projects are economically feasible as imported gas would provide cheaper electricity to overcome loadshedding, the likes of which we are witnessing. The power shortfall reaches 8,000 megawatt in peak seasons and one bcfd Iranian gas can produce 5,000 MW of electricity. So, we need planning to arrange gas from different sources and IP and TAPI are the best available options to avoid the energy system from collapsing in the future. We should welcome the Russian offer of financing these power projects to overcome the energy crisis.

Read more by Zafar here

Zafar.Bhutta

Zafar Bhutta

A reporter on the Business Desk at The Express Tribune who is based in Islamabad.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Wadeira ka Beta

    stopped reading when you wrote ‘whatever may be the reason’. This is politics. There is always an important reason. There are no friends, everything requires a favor. So unless you can’t shed light on that topic there’s no point discussing the rest of it. Recommend

  • Domlurian

    What’s with all the spate of op-eds and blogs about Russia becoming buddies with Pakistan?Recommend

  • Confused

    Why would anyone want to be friends with us? I can only expect more future i.o.u.s, in fact I’m not even sure those 500$ million could be entrusted to a project we’re involved in, what with the corruption records.Recommend

  • Hindu Indian

    @Author: But it is fine to accept Electricity from the Kaafir communists?Recommend

  • Imran Con

    Even though I try to want to comment on the content and don’t even care if Pakistan decides to go the Iran way, it’s hard due to the pervasive feeling of it reading like a cheap advertisement rather than anything else.Recommend

  • Hashmi

    this is not balancing of power. this is shifting to a new regional bloc.

    Syrian situation is defining this new balance of power. Is this a new allied vs axis?

    People of Pakistan should sincerely be concerned now since our policies will be defined by a man like Raja Rental.

    May Allah have mercy on us.Recommend

  • Gladiator

    Pakistan becoming allies with Russia? Not plausible. Simple matter of foreign policy. Decades ago, when China was a full fledged communist state, it had close ties with Russia for obvious reasons. However, the Chinese premier was at edge with lack of continuity in the soviet/communist leadership after Stalin. Moreover, China was a little ticked off at the sale of russian weapons to India, with whom China has a border dispute. Relations between China and Russia have been diplomatically cordial, however, cant be stated as friendly relations. Pakistan cannot afford to piss China off and having Russia as a possible ally means being somewhat in the same boat as India. So being Russia’s ally? I think not. Though economically speaking, its beneficial and all, the issue is something that is entrenched deep in foreign policy studies. Recommend

  • Who said this?

    The picture doesn’t have to do anything with the article. Come on ET!Recommend

  • Parvez

    Too simple not enough depth in the argument.Recommend

  • indian

    I in TAPI doesn’t stand for Iran but for India. Shows the maturity and knowledge/analytical skills of writer. Selection of photograph irrelevant.Why a semi nude girl between Russia Pakistan friendship???? A very poorly written blog.Recommend

  • Lord J

    @Wadairy ka Baita: you are completely missing the point. The writer may not have gone into the details of sudden Russian interest in Pakistan due to geo-political reason but I bet you come up with a single harm accepting Russian offer can cause us that we already not facing, including American hostility against us. Even a kid knows about Pakistan being effectively the biggest power behind Afghan Jihad that resulted in the dissolution of Soviet Union. We have done nothing to offer them yet they are offering us the help nobody is providing us.
    Of course they have their own reasons but is it too hard to understand that who will be most benefited from this cooperation? We dont have power or money and we are being shelled and droned and attacked and blamed and are being forced to shutdown one of the most critical windows for our energy supply for the near future.
    I know that its too hard for Politicians to turn their backs to Americans but I wish if we could realize that a Russian, Chinese and Pakistani cooperation will change A LOT not only in the region but also in global politics and realities.Recommend

  • G. Din

    “I wish if we could realize that a Russian, Chinese and Pakistani cooperation will change A LOT not only in the region but also in global politics and realities.”
    No, it will not! A mutt is a mutt is a mutt, no matter which heels it dogs!Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    Some people are eternal optimists. This also stops them from looking at the World the way it truly is.

    1) US sanctions specify it will blacklist and forbid any US institution from dealing with the financial institution acting as a medium. Meaning any Russian bank which funds the pipeline will be sanctioned.

    Not only that it also forbids other non-US financial institutions from dealing with those banks. For example, let say Croatian banks do business with the Russian bank under blacklist, it will also automatically be sanctioned.

    With this fear Russia will never actually finance the project or have to be really lucky if the US doesn’t sanction its banks. Russia is here to gain goodwill, nothing else. Like China backed out, it too will.

    2) Russia has a robust relationship with India. No guessing what will happen if India objects strongly to Pak-Russia relationship.

    Like US will dump Pakistan in minutes to appease India, Russia being a long-time India ally will go with its proven ally and a future superpower rather than a country rated 13th most failed state in the World.

    India is not opposing for two reasons: a) It wants to rebuild its relations with Pakistan on its terms and Pakistan is slowly playing ball. b) It knows Russia will back off else it will risk US sanctions on its financial institutions.

    Every week we see pro-Russia articles. I guess support to Chechnian rebels has evaporated suddenly, just like the Uighur Muslims issue has been sidelined for China. Recommend

  • Bam Margera

    @Anoop:
    That’s pretty typical of you.

    Isn’t America going to impose sanctions on India for building a port in Iran and a railway line from Iran to Afghanistan?You even mentioned it in your blog.

    Why do you always have to drag religion into everything, you don’t see any Pakistani commenters here so far bring religion up, only you and the other Indian commenter here have brought it up.

    Every country has national interests, and so does Pakistan, we should have good bilateral relations with Russia and every country, despite the fact the Russians supported India in 1971.

    You say India is going to be a superpower, well that’s an over-statement, but it’s quite common to hear Indians boast about how great India is and it’s going to be a “superpower”.

    Here’s why India might never become a superpower:
    http://open.salon.com/blog/seanpaulkelley/2009/03/26/reflectionsonindiaRecommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    @Bam Margera:

    “Isn’t America going to impose sanctions on India for building a port in Iran and a railway line from Iran to Afghanistan?”

    Very good question.

    1) Port and most of the railway line and road into Afghanistan from Iran is already built. It is operational and India is using it big time. So, no point with the sanctions.

    2) American president has the authority to waive the sanctions on any country. I don’t think they will even think of sanctioning India for something which ultimately helps Afghanistan.

    “Why do you always have to drag religion into everything, you don’t see any Pakistani commenters here so far bring religion up, only you and the other Indian commenter here have brought it up.”

    Did I? I was just noting the irony that in spite of all the talk of the Ummah, support for Muslim causes like Kashmir and Palestine, it evaporates when it is too convenient like in the case of Uighur Muslims with China and now Xinjiang with Russia.

    I do bring up Religion, so did Mahatma Gandhi(Not that I am comparing myself being like the great man). That doesn’t make me a Religious bigot.

    “You say India is going to be a superpower, well that’s an over-statement, but it’s quite common to hear Indians boast about how great India is and it’s going to be a “superpower”.”

    Well, its inevitable now. Just look at history as guidance.

    http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/the-britishers-came-here-too-loot-so-did-everyone-else/

    For the better part of the last 2 millennium, not centuries India had the BIGGEST GDP in the World. India will just go back to normal. As they say History repeats.

    A lot of people have said a lot of things about India. Both good and bad. India, the elephant, has gone on with its own pace. Reducing poverty from 80% to 50% from 1947 to 1990. Then, suddenly picking up from 1991 onwards to now, halving the poverty according to UN.

    Experts in Goldman Sachs and Citi group are predicting India will be among the 3 biggest economies by 2040, it already is in PPP terms.

    But, one thing is India will still remain poor despite achieving super power status. So, you can stay happy by pointing out India’s poverty figures. India’s problems will take a few decades to fix, but the good thing is it is working on it, a viable system is in place with a great Constitution.

    It is possible to exercise a large amounts of influence over the World and have problems in your country. Look at India now, in 2010(or was it 2011, I forget), India is the only country in the world where all P5 power premiers visited one nation on bilateral visits. India is already exercising so much power, which will only increase as days goes by and economy grows leaps and bounds.

    Cheers.Recommend