Speech of H.E. Mr. Sergey Peskov,
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to
the Islamic Republic of Pakistan at the Jubilee Function
on the occasion of celebration of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Pakistan
It is an honour and privilege for me to address to this august gathering on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Pakistan. Our countries will celebrate this remarkable date on the 1st of May 2008, and as any jubilee, this event prompts us to address to our common history. Today Ambassadors and diplomats of the Commonwealth of Independent States are present here. In 1948 when our relations were established, the CIS countries were part of the Soviet Union and were directly involved in the process of forming up of bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Today they continue to do it as the independent states.
Looking back at the way passed by our countries, I would like to note that the relations between the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the Soviet Union and then with Russia were rich for different events which sometimes divided us. There were falls and rises caused by the “Cold War”, military and political confrontation between the two hostile blocks as well as by other causes which evoked distrust. However, it is worth saying that to our countries ‘ leaders credit they always strived for overcoming negative barriers because the objective conditions – geographical proximity of Russia and Pakistan, cultural and civilizational affinity, common development tasks – pushed us towards each other, to interaction and cooperation.
The first serious steps in this direction were made in the 1960s of the 20th century, when President Mohammad Ayub Khan visited Moscow in 1965 and the USSR successfully contributed to the Pakistani-Indian conflict settlement resulted in the signing of the Tashkent Declaration in 1966. The next important stage in our relations were the visits of Mr. Alexey Kosygin, Chairman of the Council of the Ministers of the USSR to Pakistan which gave a powerful impetus to the Russian-Pakistani cooperation. Speaking about the visits, I would like also to mention the trips to Moscow of President Muhammad Yahya Khan in 1970 and of course, of the prominent Pakistani leader Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1972 and 1974. By the way, during the last trip he was accompanied by his young daughter Ms. Benazir with whom I had shortly met then. Nobody could imagine at that time how intricate, great and tragic would be the destiny of these statesmen.
From the very beginning of the memorable 1960s trade and economic, social and cultural cooperation between our countries started to develop very intensively. The Soviet Union rendered Pakistan assistance in exploring of oil and gas, supplied agricultural machinery and constructed power stations. A direct air communication was established between Moscow and Karachi in 1963. Construction of the Pakistan Steel Mills (started in 1968, finished in the early eighties) played the most essential role in establishing of mutual understanding and interaction between the peoples of our countries.
There are a lot of bright examples of our cooperation which we can enumerate for a long time. For instance, the outstanding Pakistani scientist-physicist Mr. Abdus Salam won the recognition in the Soviet Union and was elected as a foreign member of the Academy of Science of the USSR in the sphere of nuclear physics. Those years were marked by establishment of useful contacts between the USSR State Committee on Atomic Energy and Pakistan Commission on Nuclear Energy in the field of peaceful use of atomic energy.
The USSR largely assisted Pakistan in training of qualified personnel in geological exploration, metallurgy, construction, medicine and other spheres. Today I would like to stress this fact because the representatives of Association of the Pakistani graduates of Russia and CIS are present in this hall. Being patriots of their country and at the same time preserving close ties with Russia they are making a considerable contribution to strengthening and development of our bilateral relations.
Even in the 1980s of the last century, which turned out to be a serious test for our relations, the cooperation between the USSR and Pakistan went on. This fact proves once more that our relations are not of a time-serving nature, they reflect daily wants of both states. Despite all irritants existed between our countries, Head of the Pakistani military administration General Zia-ul-Haq frequented official receptions at the Soviet Embassy on the occasion of the National Day.
Summing up, I have to say that in spite of problems, which divided Moscow and Islamabad, we tried to maintain the level of our relations and managed the way or the other to overcome all our discords. In the early 1990s of the last century after the Soviet Union’s disintegration and emerging of a democratic Russia and the CIS new prospects for widening of cooperation between Moscow and Islamabad appeared (by the way, Pakistan was the first state which recognized Russia as the successor of the USSR). But these opportunities were not fully realized due to economic hardships of transitional period in Russia. Pakistan also had a lot of problems at that time.
Nevertheless, Russian and Pakistani diplomats did their best to put our relations on track and in the end were a success. The official visit to Moscow in 1999 of the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was a tangible contribution to this process. Later summit meetings between the top leaders of the two countries (presidents Pervez Musharraf and Vladimir Putin) allowed us to move forward in drawing up of a new architecture of our interaction in a modern quickly changing world. and to eradicate all the principal irritants between Russia and Pakistan which existed in the past and to start our rapprochement again.
There is an obvious progress in our relations today. We find common ground and actively interact on many urgent and vital international problems, cooperate within the framework of such multilateral organizations as the United Nations, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Organization of Islamic Conference. I have to note, by the way, that Islamabad played an active role in assisting Russia to get an observer status at the OIC as well as Moscow rendered Pakistan assistance in gaining the same status at the SCO. Both of our countries counteract international terrorism. A bilateral Joint Working Group was set up for this purpose where relevant issues being openly discussed.
It is worth mentioning that anytime when natural disasters fell up on Pakistan Russian people came to rescue. It was so in 1974 when we helped to eliminate the aftermath of a devastating flood. We did not stand aside when a devastating earthquake occurred in Pakistan in October 2005. Rescue team, doctors and humanitarian aid were urgently sent here.
There are some positive shifts in the trade and economic cooperation today. The increase of trade turnover between our countries, from 92 million dollars in 2003 to more than 400 million in 2007, is our joint achievement. In this regard I have to mention establishment in Karachi of a joint venture assembling KAMAZ trucks, supplies of the Russian helicopters to Pakistan and projects for the future in the field of oil and gas exploration, transport and space.
At the same time I don’t intend to exaggerate our achievements. It is evident that all the work done for the last time, is not enough and current state of our bilateral affairs is not consistent with our potentials. It was particularly mentioned at the talks during the visit of the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation Mr. Mikhail Fradkov to Pakistan in April 2007. It has been the first high-level visit since 1968. This visit drew the line under the past stage of our relations and put them on a new track. Now it ‘s up to the governments of the two countries to make the next steps.
To tell literally, historical changes are taking place in Pakistan these days. We believe that your state will gain stability and confidence of the people and its opportunities in the field of international cooperation will increase. In this context I hope that the Government and Parliament of Pakistan will give particular attention to widening and deepening of cooperation with my country. There are a lot of opportunities for that. We have just to start working. For example, it is necessary to intensify interparliamentary ties. The Russian State Duma has re-established the Group of Friendship with Pakistan. And we will appreciate if a relevant step is made by the National Assembly of Pakistan. We also think that the contacts between different political parties, non-governmental organizations, including religious, are of utmost importance. But one of our major tasks is to move forward the activity of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic, Scientific and Technical
I would like to stress the significance of promotion of people to people contacts, cultural and scientific links. There has been a sort of vacuum in this spheres for many years in spite of the fact that at the Soviet times such kind of cooperation developed rather successfully. There is still the basis for that. For example, bibliography of the Russian scholars-orientalists about Pakistan is one of the most comprehensive in the world. The late Prof. Gankovsky, well-known in your country, Dr. Belokrinitsky, prominent scholars Kamenev and Moskalenko, who continue to actively publish their scientific works today, have played an immense role in Pakistan studies. The first ever encyclopaedia of Pakistan in the Russian and English languages was published in Russia by the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. I know that there are also interesting and profound studies of the Pakistani scientists on different aspects of Russia’s development. And it is not good when our
researches and scholars work often isolated from each other and contacts among them are very few. Sometimes they hold joint seminars and conferences, for example, between Area Study Centre of the University of Peshawar and Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Science, but to our regret, this is exception to the rule.
We should also seriously think about younger generations of Russians and Pakistanis and involve them into the process of mutual cognition of our societies. In this regard it is necessary to widen our cultural exchange, to promote tourism. Apart from the governments, business communities as well as interregional cooperation among Russian regions and Pakistani provinces, should make their contribution to this process.
Speaking about two our countries I would like to stress that the aspiration for the future and need for establishment of democratic values based on national heritage and experience unite Russia and Pakistan.
Today a new government of Pakistan faces real challenges: completion of political transformation process in the country and strengthening of democratic fundamentals of the Pakistani society; solving of tough economic problems, especially in power sector. It is necessary to continue macroeconomic reforms and promote a positive image of the country in the world. Pakistan has to counter such severe challenges of present days as extremism, terrorism, drug trafficking, etc. Apart from material, financial and moral expenditures this will require close cooperation with other states of the world, including Russia.
We hope that Pakistan will choose a right balance of economic, social and military measures necessary for restoration of stability in the country which is important not only for the Pakistanis but for the regional and international security in the whole.
I would like to assure all our friends, who gathered here, that for our country cooperation with Pakistan is of a self-dependent value taking into consideration its growing influence in the region, within the Muslim Ummah and all over the world. We also highly appreciate your positive and friendly attitude towards Russia and from our side will exert all necessary efforts to contribute to the development of mutually beneficial cooperation.
I am grateful to H.E. Mr. Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, Prime Minister of Pakistan, for his warm message to this jubilee function in which he has extended felicitations on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries and has given the prospects for cooperation between Pakistan and Russia in different fields.
Taking this opportunity, I would also like to extend to the leadership and the Government of Pakistan and the Pakistani people my congratulations on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries.