Imran Khan’s Remark On Pro-US Bias Puts Pakistan-Russia Ties Into Context
American influence still powerfully shapes Pakistani foreign policy even 10 months after the post-modern coup and almost 3 months after the end of former COAS Bajwa’s tenure. Without him at the helm directly meddling in his country’s international partnerships, a window opened up for his successor to partially patch up some of the problems that he was responsible for causing in ties with Russia, but a US-imposed ceiling still limits the extent to which their relations can improve.
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was deposed last year as part of a US-orchestrated post-modern coup as punishment for his independent foreign policy, remarked the other day that former Chief Of Army Staff (COAS) Qamar Javed Bajwa wanted him to publicly condemn Russia. The ousted leader elaborated that this demand came after his trip to Moscow and ultimately saw COAS Bajwa condemn that country’s ongoing special operation in Ukraine at a security seminar in Islamabad.
In the words of former Prime Minister Khan, “Astoundingly, a grade-22 officer condemned Russia for the invasion in a security seminar while we were trying to buy cheap oil from Russia, our army chief condemning it to please America. The people of Pakistan suffered a great a deal of loss because of this as escalated international oil prices pushed our inflation rate from 12 per cent to 30 per cent whereas India benefited from cheap Russian oil, as its inflation rate slid from 7.5 per cent to 5.5 per cent.”
His insight enables one to put the past year of ties with Russia into context. Relations were de facto frozen after the post-modern coup, as were negotiations over clinching comprehensive economic and energy deals. Furthermore, conventional and social media figures considered close to the US-installed regime launched an information warfare campaign against those aforementioned negotiations that he sought to advance while in Moscow by claiming that Pakistan supposedly can’t process Russian oil.
This operation was meant to meddle in their country’s foreign policy by provoking distrust with Moscow so as please Washington, but it ended up being entirely to Islamabad’s detriment by depriving it of the discounted oil that it so urgently required to manage its cascading economic and financial crisis. Russia retained its diplomatic channels of communication with Pakistan out of pragmatism in alignment with its non-ideological foreign policy, however, which eventually facilitated the resumption of those talks.
Between the post-modern coup and the end of COAS Bajwa’s tenure in late November, however, it was obvious that Islamabad had unilaterally decided not to continue cultivating meaningful ties with Moscow. While it also didn’t vote against its non-traditional partner at the UN, this was more to reassure China that the post-modern coup regime wasn’t fully controlled by the US and might thus endanger the viability of CPEC than it was to signal any support for multipolarity or Russia.
Nevertheless, the end effect was the same as regards this decision preventing the complete reversal of all that had hitherto been achieved over the past decade in Russian-Pakistani relations. That outcome in turn enabled new COAS Asim Munir to prioritize repairing bilateral ties, to which end he dispatched Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (BBZ) to Moscow to complete what former Prime Minister Khan had started with respect to clinching comprehensive economic and energy deals.
While none have yet to be signed, the general consensus is that his trip largely succeeded in putting their ties back on track, which also inadvertently discredited the post-modern coup regime’s perception managers who earlier falsely claimed that Pakistan can’t process Russian oil. It thus became obviously apparent that the unilateral de facto freezing of Russian-Pakistani relations was former COAS Bajwa’s personal initiative to please the US as a quid pro quo for it backing his power grab last April.
That said, bilateral ties with Russia haven’t returned to the level that they were on the eve of the post-modern coup since Pakistan abruptly declined to participate in last week’s Moscow meeting on Afghanistan despite signalling its interests in this to Special Presidential Representative Zamir Kabulov. This unexpected development showed that there are still limits to how far the country’s US-installed regime will go in patching up its ties with Russia despite former COAS Bajwa no longer calling the shots.
With that in mind, it can be concluded that while Russian-Pakistani relations are back on the upswing, continued US influence over the post-modern coup regime that it installed last spring ensures that there’s a ceiling to their potential. Washington didn’t act to obstruct BBZ’s trip to Moscow since his regime urgently requires the massive import of discounted resources that only Russia can provide in order to prevent its cascading economic and financial crises from spiralling further out of control.
That worst-case scenario would endanger the viability of the US’ latest geopolitical project in South Asia, hence why it didn’t stand in the way of BBZ’s latest trip. Russia was also receptive to his resumption of former Prime Minister Khan’s negotiations on clinching comprehensive economic and energy deals since it knows that the failure to do so could risk destabilizing the entire region in the event that the post-modern coup regime completely collapses.
This convergence of interest between the US, Pakistan, and Russia explains the successful outcome of last month’s talks, yet no such confluence exists between these three when it comes to Russian-Pakistani cooperation on managing security threats stemming from Taliban-run Afghanistan. Washington doesn’t want Islamabad playing a constructive role in the wider region but would instead prefer for it to maintain its semi-isolationist policy that was promulgated since the post-modern coup.
It therefore didn’t approve of Pakistan participating in the latest Moscow meeting on Afghanistan, hence why Islamabad didn’t dispatch anyone there on the pretext of boycotting multilateral initiatives on that country in which India participates. That explanation for covering up the US’ role in this decision was counterproductive though since it suggested that Pakistan might also let its problems with India impede multilateral cooperation within the SCO, thus prompting fellow members to question its commitments.
The takeaway is that American influence still powerfully shapes Pakistani foreign policy even 10 months after the post-modern coup and almost 3 months after the end of former COAS Bajwa’s tenure. Without him at the helm directly meddling in his country’s international partnerships, a window opened up for his successor to partially patch up some of the problems that he was responsible for causing in ties with Russia, but a US-imposed ceiling still limits the extent to which their relations can improve.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Voice of East.
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Categories: Geopolitics, International Affairs, Pakistan
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