PAKISTAN WANTS RUSSIAN ENGAGEMENT IN AFGHAN PEACE PROCESS: ASIF
Moscow to cooperate in major energy projects
Islamabad—At the third session of Pakistan-Russia Joint Working Group (JWG) on Energy here Russia expressed willingness to cooperate with Pakistan in various projects in the fields of oil and gas exploration, construction of floating LNG terminals, North-South gas pipeline from Gwadar to Nawabshah, sharing of seismic and geological data, Enhanced Oil Recovery, LPG processing facility and gas purification plants, modernization of oil and gas infrastructure, innovative technology solutions in coal industry, and building/renovation of various power generating units in Pakistan, especially those of Russian origin.
The Pakistan delegation was led by Ambassador to Russia, Zaheer A. Janjua, and included representatives of Ministry of Water, OGDCL and Inter State Gas Services Limited. The Russian delegation was headed by Deputy Energy Minister Yury Sentyur in, says a report received from Moscow.
The Pakistan delegation also held meetings with the major Russian state enterprises in the field of energy.
The two sides also discussed cooperation in trans-national energy projects, including CASA-1000 and TAPI gas pipeline. Major Russian Companies in the energy sector including Techno prom export, Rostec-Global Resources, Rushydro International, Power Machines, Inter RAO, United Engine Corporation, and Stochinsky Institute of Mining participated in the discussions with the Pakistan delegation. A Joint Statement/Protocol was signed by the leaders of the two delegations at the end of the meeting. Pakistan has shown keen interest in attracting Russia state energy enterprises to invest in Pakistan in the energy projects. The government of Pakistan desires to transform the current cordial political relations with Russia into a long-term and substantive economic partnership, especially in the field of energy, for the mutual benefit of the two countries.
Meanwhile, brushing aside the notion that Russian defence minister’s recently concluded visit to Pakistan might annoy New Delhi and Washington, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Saturday said improvement in ties between Islamabad and Moscow are not at the cost of relations with other countries.
Speaking to media, he termed it Pakistan’s independent diplomacy and said, “Russia is a great regional power and Pakistan cannot ignore it”.
“After US/Nato forces’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, security would be a bigger challenge for Afghanistan… and Pakistan wants Russian engagement in Afghan peace process,” he said.
“We must forget what Russia did in the past and look forward to a new beginning in the region.”“Pakistan terms Russia and China’s presence in the region as source of peace and stability and that is why all three are getting closer on strategic matters,” Khawaja Asif remarked pointing towards a major shift in Pakistan’s foreign and security policy.
On relations with India, the defence minister said his Russian counterpart General Sergei Shoigu was briefed about the prevailing situation at eastern borders and relations with India in general. He said that the briefing given to Gen Shoigu was very important ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India later this year.
In a major breakthrough after Russia lifted arms sales embargo to Pakistan earlier this year, Defence Minister Asif said that a “final go ahead” for the purchase of Russian MI-35 gunship helicopters has been given.“The matter remained under consideration for many months… now we have given Russians final go ahead for the purchase of these helicopters,” Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said.
The minister said that the gunship helicopters would be used in the ongoing war against terrorism by Pakistani security forces.
“Russia has moved up Pakistan in its category B from D for arms sales, which means that Pakistan can now buy weapons from Russian market,” he revealed.