Pakistan’s Begging Bowl !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Two interesting news of the month:1..India, the population of which exceeds one billion, saying, “We are going to the moon for the first time. China has gone earlier, but today we are trying to catch them. 2...On the other hand Mr. Zardari takes begging bowl to Beijing and asks for financial help, soon this bowl will surf around the Globe, What a sad paradox between a country that is celebrating its mission to the moon and another that is moaning about the pressure of debts and the fear of bankruptcy. what a shame, for a country which has a population of 172 million, with over 40 million people who can’t read and write, who even don’t have clean drinking water in most parts of the country, country where people even can’t enjoy benefits of electricity and facing over 5 hours of load shedding. Who is responsible for this? Lets blame entire world because we are good at that. Three years ago former president General Pervez Musharraf said, “We have broken th e begging bowl,” and Zardari once said that his country would rather tighten its belt than turn to the IMF for help, don’t we love slogans like this??? but today Pakistan finds itself in desperate need of financial aid since there are warnings that its economy is deteriorating sharply, Pakistan’s begging bowl (kachkole) is not new to the world, for the last, more then 60 years that’s what Pakistani leaders doing, Pakistan did get billions of dollars in aid and cash but what happened to all that money??? Gen. Mush received over 10 billions in last 11 years from USA but people in this country were selling their kids or kidneys or committing suicide, while Musharraf traveled to around 40 countries costing the country's exchequer Rs. 1.4 billion. This "begging bowl syndrome" could be avoided long time ago, if Pakistani politicians, generals, bureaucrats, elite and bourgeois were sincere and had some Ego, we talk about China’s development but we ignore that in China they shoot co rrupt officials and politicians. Pakistan should Toss out the begging bowl mentality and all those who stole money from the nation over 60 years bring it BACK to Pakistan, then these politicians ,generals, bureaucrats, elite and bourgeois will be called sincere leaders, but that will never happen. Its time for Pakistani leaders to decide, what they want ? , science, industry and development or just slogans and get aid from world powers and then steal nation’s money? It is obvious that China and other countries are not going to help Pakistan financially and I don’t blame them, because no one trust dishonest leaders who are not sincere with their country but love to steal people’s money. Can Pakistan ever stand up on it’s feet or it will keep running from one master to another master? It will only get used up and discarded by all. All countries look for their own interest and use other countries to further their own ambitions. It is sad that Pakistanis has been let down by its leader s, military, political and religious leaders , If Pakistan wishes to tie its future to china so be it, but unless this country learns to stand on its own two feet it cannot hope to prosper. A crutch is still a crutch be it be of gold. Pakistani citizens realize that they cannot go around looking for dole outs. Nobody want to be friends with a weaker or poorer nation and if they profess to be friends - be sure to read the fine print: a friendship between a strong and weak nation is flawed in its very concept. The stronger nation would always extract a price for its help and Pakistan experienced this for a long time. whenever there is a partnership of unequal, the stronger always knows that it can arm twist the weaker nation ,lets not blame other countries if they are refusing to help you Mr. President,trash your begging bowl and let Pakistan grow on its own. Lets learn from JAPAN, GERMANY, CHINA, MALAYSIA. Pakistan can’t depend on foreign aid forever, its shameful to go t o China or Saudi Arabia and ask for help. The problem is Pakistani leaders never used foreign aid for people welfare, Unfortunately most of this aid has been wasted on strategic weapons to standoff with India or stolen. Shaukat Aziz, frequently likened Pakistan to a "Tiger economy", the former government left an economy on the brink of ruin without any durable base. The situation in Pakistan for ordinary people is indeed tough. Fuel and wheat prices have skyrocketed. Politicians in current Govt should reduce their spending, stop traveling around the world. To inspire investor confidence, please move your offshore foreign accounts back to Pakistan.When you ask someone for money to help your country, the first question they will ask you is what have you done? If you are not able to show loyalty and sincerity to the country that you are hoping to “save,” it makes it difficult for any foreign country or investor to be willing to put money into Pakistan for development or investmen t.To that effect, any member of the Provinicial or National Assembly, Senators, Ministers, Advisors, Chief Ministers, Governors, Prime Minister and President, along with the leadership of each of the “national” political parties should transfer all their forex balances back to bank accounts in Pakistan. move your money back to Pakistan’s banks, it would stabilize the banks and show confidence to potential investors and donors that the elected government BELIEVES that they can “save Pakistan.” No more unneeded foreign visits or tours. Pakistan is a poor country. Elected leaders keep saying and showing with their policy decisions that Pakistan is running out of money and fast. Therefore, Pakistan can no longer afford to pay for trips to Dubai, London or any other country for the different elected offices. Since the global giants that have financed Pakistan in the past are going through their own economic collapses, there is really no reason to go and beg them for money in r eturn for favors. No more stupid domestic visits.In all actuality, no one wants to meet the elected leadership of Pakistan. Partly because of the security risk that they are, being targets of suicide bombers, and partly that there is really no point in talking to an MPA, MNA, Senator, Minister or anyone else. There is no money to be passed around in grafts and gifts, so there is no reason to travel around promising money to different people and organizations. Nor does the nation have money to pay for big meals and fanfare when someone from the government decides to grace their village, town or city. Reduce all other useless spending. Also politicians like NAWAZ SHARIF.IMRAN KHAN,QAZI HUSSIAN ETC should put their money for national cause and make Pakistan strong. Do you think all these politicians would do this???? I don’t think so and that is sad. You may know thousands of ways how to fail, but you don't know even one way to succeed. Politicians in this country know thousands of wa ys of how to fail themselves, their governments, their people and their country, but not even one single of them have known how to empower himself to succeed, enable his people to succeed and manage his government to succeed. This is a country with a long list of failing leaders: both military and civilians, in fact all, without any exception. It is as if it was the fate of this country to never see the good days that it was supposed to bring for the people who were forced to be Pakistanis without other choices. Everybody who has ruled Pakistan had a bad fate. They victimized the country and the people and ultimately, became the victim of their own mistakes. Pakistani politicians, have a long history of failing themselves, failing each other, failing the country, failing the people and giving every opportunity to the army to intervene and rule them, torture them and put them in jail or send them in exile. The leaders of Pakistan have proved in the history of Pakistan that it is not either manageable or they cannot manage it successfully. The people who live in Pakistan must have new options. They cannot live forever in misery and poverty while the rest of the world moves forward and gains more prosperity, stability, security and peace. If they do not gain prosperity and peace in Pakistan, because of Pakistani leaders, then, they must find their own new ways. Politicians have betrayed this country through poor governance, weak capacity and evil intentions. The Pakistani military has practiced politics, as a player or a puppeteer, right since the early fifties and the politicians have eagerly played into its hands satisfied with the lollipops on offer. It plays more politics than its ostensible role, with pliant, selfish politicians playing eager second fiddles. Politics has not been strangled due to lack of opportunity. The mullah as a political force was created by the army and elite and foreign powers, and it flourished on the fertile soil of circumstance. Exploiting illiteracy and blossoming in a greenhouse provided by the military umbrella, obscurantist religious leaders have come to acquire an influence not justified by their personal endowments. They live in an imaginary world, feed on ignorance and are inspired by quixotic and unreal explanations of the world. Islam for them is only a slogan, something to justify an irrational explanation of religiosity. Pakistan as a nation state of tolerant Muslims is not their goal, and betraying it perhaps religious duty for them. If these failed politicians cant solve Country’s problems then they have no right to be in politics, its time for people in this country to get, stand up and raise your voice, you can’t be beggers for all your life, you can’t make your next generation living on super power’s charity and aid.

Jis khait say dehqa’n ko muyassar na ho rozi
us khet kay har khosha-e-gandum ko jala du.

Pakistan’s Tribal Militias Walk a Tightrope in Fight Against Taliban


PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Two tribal elders lay stretched out in an orthopedic ward here last week, their plastered limbs and winces of pain grim evidence of the slaughter they survived when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the midst of their tribal gathering.

These wounded men, and many others in the hospital, were supposed to be the backbone of a Pakistani government effort to take on the Taliban, and its backers, Al Qaeda, with armies of traditional tribesmen working in consultation with the Pakistani military.

The tribal militias, known as lashkars, have quickly become a crucial tool of Pakistan’s strategy in the tribal belt, where the army has been fighting the Taliban for more than two months in what army generals acknowledge is a tougher and more protracted slog than they had anticipated. And, indeed, the lashkars’ early efforts have been far from promising.

As the strength of the militants in the tribal areas grows, and as the war across the border in Afghanistan worsens, the Pakistanis are casting about for new tactics. The emergence of the lashkars is a sign of the tribesmen’s rising frustration with the ruthlessness of the Taliban, but also of their traditional desire to run their own affairs and keep the Pakistani Army at bay, Pakistani officers and law enforcement officials say.

Some in Washington have pointed to the emergence of the lashkars as a hopeful parallel to the largely successful Sunni Awakening movement in Iraq, which drew on tribes’ frustration with militant jihadis to build an alliance with American troops that helped lessen violence in Iraq. But there are significant differences, a senior American government official acknowledged. In Anbar Province, he said, the Iraqi tribes “woke up to millions of dollars in government assistance, and the support of the Third Infantry Division.”

But the support by the Pakistani Army and civilian government for the tribal militias has been “episodic” and so far “unsustained,” the official said. In addition, tribal structures in Pakistan have been weakened in recent years by the Taliban, unlike the situation in Iraq.

The tribesmen, armed with antiquated weaponry from the 1980s Afghan war, are facing better equipped, highly motivated Taliban fighters who have intimidated and crushed some of the militia.

In the last two months, the Taliban have burned the homes of tribal leaders and assassinated others who have dared to participate in the resistance. They have pulled tribesmen suspected of backing the militia out of buses and cars and used suicide bombers against them as they did in Orakzai, the place where the wounded in the Peshawar hospital were attacked.

“We wanted to form a lashkar,” said Abdul Rehman, 50, a tribal leader of the Orakzai area, as he lay on his crumpled bed in the Lady Reading hospital. “We were pressured by the government to take action because they warned, ‘If you don’t take action you will be bombed.’ ” The lack of consistent Pakistani Army and government support has left some tribesmen feeling betrayed. About 1,000 tribesmen were meeting on Oct. 10 and had just decided to form a lashkar, when the suicide bomber, armed with perfect intelligence for a pre-emptive strike, killed more than 100 tribesmen and wounded many more.

The next day, government forces struck back in Orakzai, but helicopter gunships hit more civilians than militants, forcing a large number of people to leave the area and providing space for the militants to occupy, residents of the area said.

The Pakistani military is counting on the tribal militias to work as localized forces and to pick up some of the burden of the heavy fighting that is now concentrated in the Bajaur part of the tribal belt. “We’re concentrating on the hard core; the lashkars are cleansing their areas, taking people out in their areas,” one general said.

But in the last four years the Taliban have deliberately singled out pro-government tribal elders, killing as many as 500 of them, and have attracted uneducated tribal youth with the lure of good money and stature.

Even in the best of times, there are basic unwritten rules about the tribal militia in Pakistan that limit their impact.

The Pakistani military, for example, can lend moral support but cannot initiate a tribal militia, the generals said. The lashkars come with their own weapons, food and ammunition. They have their own fixed area of responsibility, and they are not permanent.

Great care is taken to make sure the lashkars do not become a threat to the military itself. “We do not want a lashkar to become an offensive force,” said one of the generals, who spoke frankly about the lashkars on the condition of anonymity. For that reason, the military was willing to lend support artillery and helicopters but would not give the militias heavy weapons, he said.

Beyond those rules, the Pakistani Army and government have not been able to inculcate the lashkars with the needed confidence, said Khalid Aziz, a former chief secretary of the North-West Frontier Province.

“You put these people up front and you will get them chewed up,” Mr. Aziz said. “If you deploy the lashkar on an ad hoc basis they can be an embarrassment.”

The lashkars’ fragility has been most clearly demonstrated in the Charmang area of Bajaur, a stronghold of the Taliban in the foothills of the mountains that border Afghanistan, where the Taliban have been in control for several years, building supply lines and bases.

The Taliban have ruled civilian life in Charmang, imposing taxes, issuing permits for businesses and handing out their form of justice.

Taj Mohammed, 20, a college student in Bajaur who is now a refugee on the outskirts of Peshawar, said that based on promises from the government that they would receive proper backing, his father and some other elders had formed a lashkar in the village of Hilal Khel.

Immediately, he said, the Taliban brought in 600 reinforcements from Afghanistan under the command of Zia ur-Rehman, a well-known Afghan Taliban leader.

“This weakened the resolve of the elders,” Mr. Mohammed said.

Then, the Taliban sowed terror by kidnapping and killing four tribal leaders of the lashkar, leaving their bodies on the roadside, their throats slit.

After the killings, there was fighting between the lashkar and the militants, Mr. Mohammed said. The Taliban, he said, had “very sophisticated weapons,” including rocket launchers and heavy guns. His father had a Kalashnikov.

“The Taliban came to my father as a leader of the lashkar and said, ‘We will slaughter you.’ ”

The Taliban burned houses in several of Charmang’s villages, he said, an act that is considered a particular humiliation.

After the four killings, many of the leaders of the lashkar fled and others surrendered. The Taliban burned dozens of houses in four villages, particularly in Babara. A request by the lashkar for help from the military did not materialize, and unlike the lashkar, the military took no casualties in the episode, said Fazl-e Sadiq, a schoolteacher from Charmang who is also a refugee in the Peshawar area. “The villagers became very demoralized,” he said.

Mr. Mohammed said his father, Mohammed Gul, was betrayed by the elders of the Hanafia Khel tribe, and he fled for his life. “He tried very hard,” Mr. Mohammed said of his father.

“Now he is in a safe place from the Taliban.”

Among the houses that the Taliban burned was his family home, built 15 years ago at great expense, he said. “My home is very beautiful, my home is very clean, a big house with 12 rooms,” he said in broken English. Thirty members of his extended family, including his wife and 6-month-old daughter, lived there.

“Except for my one clothes, and my one hat,” he had little left, he said pointing to a refugee tent with a couple of mattresses but nothing else.

In one area of Bajaur, known as Salarzai, the recently formed tribal militia has proved a success.

But that was largely because the Taliban have never had strong roots there, and the ancient tribal hierarchy of rich landlords presiding over large properties remains intact, tribesmen from Bajaur said.

The people of Salarzai were strongly motivated to keep the Taliban at bay, said Jalal Uddin, the son of one of the prominent local elders. “I felt overjoyed when I was riding with the lashkar because it meant the old tribal system was working,” Mr. Uddin said.

In a reversal of the pattern elsewhere, the lashkar in Salarzai had recently burned about 20 houses belonging to the militants in the village of Baanda, the only place in Salarzai where the militants have strength, according to Sahibzada Bahahuddin, a journalist in Khar, the capital of Bajaur.

But, so far, such successes are rare in the rest of the tribal region.

In the longer term, the defeat of the lashkar in Charmang would make the situation much more difficult for the government, Mr. Mohammed said. His father felt betrayed, he said, and he doubted that his father would take on such a role again. It was now up to the government to win the war on its own, he said.

As he stood at the flap of his tent, cradling his tiny daughter, Soomia, Mr. Mohammed said that despite the let-down by the government, he wanted nothing more than to return to his lands in Charmang.

“But we must have peace in the area,” he said. “When the Taliban are weakened and the roads are safe we will rebuild. All this depends on the government.”

Pakistan Turns to China's Deep Reserves

Pakistan has reached a critical new phase in its long-deteriorating financial situation, as investor flight and bleeding of national reserves force the country to scramble for international funds to shore up its economy. With the global financial crisis draining coffers in the United States and Europe, the key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism is seeking help from an old friend newly flush with cash: China.

President Asif Ali Zardari arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for a four-day state visit as concern has surged over a possible debt default by Pakistan that could cripple its economy and spark more civil unrest. While the amount of money Pakistan needs in the short term is relatively small -- $4 billion to $6 billion -- analysts say the climate of crisis and public anger over domestic bailouts in the United States and Western Europe have made even a modest infusion from its Western allies politically difficult.

Pakistan's bid for Chinese cash underscores the potential of Beijing's $1.9 trillion in foreign reserves, the largest in the world, to boost its global influence. The government is now seeking as much as $3 billion in emergency assistance from China, as well as assistance from oil-rich Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to a senior Pakistani official. Pakistan's central bank governor, Shashad Akhtar, is in Washington this week to review a draft plan for overhauling the country's finances with the International Monetary Fund, potentially paving the way for future aid.

U.S. military and intelligence officials fear that Pakistan's increasingly precarious economy will compound an already unstable political situation and undermine military cooperation. Both al-Qaeda and the Taliban leadership are located in the rugged, economically depressed region along Pakistan's western border with Afghanistan. The Bush administration and Congress have been shaping a long-term economic and military assistance package for Pakistan, but there is no indication the United States is able to step in with a short-term financial lifeline.

Pakistan is going to the Chinese now "because you go to the guys with the money," a senior International Monetary Fund official said. "And right now, the Chinese are the ones with the money."

Securing as much as $6 billion would buy the government the breathing room it needs, analysts say, to begin a desperately needed overhaul of its budget to sustain Pakistan's battered economy in the longer term.

Pakistan's financial problems go back at least a year, with current and past administrations borrowing from the central bank to sustain generous state subsidies on gasoline and diesel. As global oil prices surged, the government of former President Pervez Musharraf curried favor with average Pakistanis by having the state absorb the shocks. Musharraf ousted a democratically elected government in 1999 and ruled until a civilian coalition was voted into office last spring, headed by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani. The government forced Musharraf from the presidency in August, electing Zardari as his replacement in September.

Analysts and IMF officials say the current government has made notable progress in lifting those subsidies in recent weeks to ease the budget. Yet the global credit crunch and concerns over security have worsened investor flight, with as much as $1.2 billion a month fleeing Pakistan during the summer. National reserves over the past year have fallen 67 percent, to $8.3 billion, leaving the country ill-prepared to deal with financial turbulence as more investors pulled out in recent weeks as the U.S. crisis spread globally.

That has fed two major fears. First, that Pakistan may not be able to secure the funds to avoid a debt default early next year. And second, that investor concern over its potential insolvency could grow into a panic in coming weeks, leading to a far broader capital pullout that could jeopardize the country's financial system.

Unprecedented inflation, political instability and the growing threat from Islamist insurgents have all had sharply negative effects on investor confidence, said Sakib Sherani, chief economist at ABN Amro Bank Pakistan.

"It is clear that Pakistan is facing challenges in its balance of payments. Without cash inflows we are losing about $1 billion a month, which is untenable," Sherani said. "On the one hand, you are paying more for imports in Pakistan; on the other, you have less cash inflows."

On Oct. 6, both Standard & Poors and Moody's downgraded Pakistani bonds. "Only Seychelles has a lower rating, and it has already defaulted on its debt," said John Chambers, managing director with Standard & Poors in New York.

To curb losses, Pakistan in recent weeks has set new rules on stock trading aimed at preventing even sharper sell-offs of Pakistani companies. Some analysts are concerned that the new government may resort to freezing foreign capital, a measure Pakistan took in the 1990s after being slapped with global sanctions for conducting a nuclear test.

The Pakistani government is seeking to ease those fears by bolstering its central bank reserves with funds from China and Gulf states. China and Pakistan have a long history of economic cooperation, based partly on decades of weapons sales, and a lifeline now, particularly so small a sum, would not be seen as unusual. "The Pakistanis like to call the Chinese their all-weather ally, and the U.S. their fair-weather friends," said Daniel Markey, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "This kind of loan could be seen as self-serving by the Chinese, and continue that impression."

A senior Pakistani official said the government requested in July that Saudi Arabia chip in with an "oil facility" -- or an agreement that would grant Pakistan concessionary terms and delayed payments and on roughly half the oil it imports. One reason investors are more concerned about Pakistan now is that Saudi Arabia has not yet responded.

Analysts say the Pakistanis may have better luck at a meeting early next month in the United Arab Emirates of the "Friends of Pakistan" -- a group of countries including the United States and Britain that are considered close allies. They are counting, sources close to the talks said, on countries seeing the danger of an economic collapse in Pakistan and the threat that poses to the war on terror as worth the relatively small price of financial assistance.

A last option might be seeking a lifeline from the IMF, though such an agreement is seen as politically difficult for the new government. Pakistan paid off the last of several IMF loans in 2005, with Musharraf hailing the accomplishment as a breaking of the nation's beggar's bowl. By seeking IMF help now, analysts say, the new government may find itself in the difficult position of explaining to the population why it needs to glue that bowl back together.

Pakistani officials, however, are meeting with IMF officials in Washington now, seeking their "seal of approval" on the plan to rein in runaway spending threatening to bankrupt the government. Although IMF officials say the Pakistanis are not seeking a loan, IMF approval of their economic plans could pave the way for other institutions, including the World Bank and Asian Development Banks, to offer lending. It could also make approval of an IMF loan at a later date happen faster.

"What they want is an endorsement in principle," a senior IMF official said, "something that would make financial support go more smoothly if they decide they do need to ask for it."

A new window to Russia

Analysis-Tanvir Ahmad Khan
Daily Times.

Russia is not returning to a classical version of the Cold War. It is today a post-imperialist authoritarian ‘democracy’ with a well-educated ever-expanding middle class determined to find an honourable place in the comity of nations

Conversations with strategic analysts in Peshawar in the third week of September revealed an earnest preoccupation with the role of Russia in regional developments. Geographical proximity to Afghanistan and the Central Asian Republics that are likely to be the locus of a renewed Russian interest provides an obvious explanation.

Rumours of Russia being gradually sucked into the Afghan wars — so far largely unsubstantiated — also sweep into the historical gateway city. One noticed frequent extrapolation into the current situation with the Taliban of the American attempts to destroy the Ho Chi Minh trail that turned the fire in Vietnam into a regional inferno. There was also a greater recognition of the fact that the world is witnessing a slow but steady diffusion of power and influence.

I told my interlocutors in the deeply concerned capital of “Pakhtunkhwa” that the sketchy evidence of Russian arms joining supplies from other known sources in the adjacent zone of conflict need not be connected to the Medvedev-Putin order in Russia. During my assignment to Moscow, I became aware of a large network of arms dealers with years of past service in the KGB, the border forces and the regular military engaged in international arms trade. Such networks are quite capable of operating outside Moscow’s official approval.

So far as Afghanistan is concerned, thousands of Russians who served there during the Soviet occupation — the “Afghanis of Russia” — are still trying to come to terms with the pain and humiliation of a failed mission.

While this is politics of war at its outer and wilder fringes, a vastly more important fact is the resurgence of Russia as a power to reckon with. The Russian military intervention that has led South Ossetia and Abkhazia to virtually break away from Georgia needs a fuller comment another day. Nevertheless the allegations of Russian neo-imperialism and Czarist expansion are designed to obscure the Russian side of the story.

Russian history has often witnessed the rise of leaders using autocratic structures and practices to hold together a sprawling multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-faith land in times of troubles. Putin followed Gorbachev and Yeltsin at a time when many Russians felt that western capitalistic giants had duped them into playing a servile role in the political and economic domain alike. Putin did not abolish either democracy or capitalism but imposed a relentless nationalistic discipline on the new institutions embodying them and then, taking advantage of windfall profits from energy sales, re-energised the state and the society.

Russia was, indeed, flattered by a seat at G-8 table and also attracted by the prospect of joining the WTO. It was, however, not mesmerised enough to forget what Putin gradually defined as Russia’s right to ‘spheres of interest’ and zones of ‘privileged interest’. This doctrine has a territorial map implicit in it.

Russia’s erstwhile satellites in Eastern Europe have undergone deep “westernisation” and revived the old concept of Mitteleuropa separating Western Europe from historical Russia. The three Baltic States also drifted away despite sizeable Russian minorities.

The Russians accepted these realities but were profoundly disillusioned when the West tried to seduce Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova into joining NATO. Putin drew a red line in front of these former Soviet States in his famous speech in Munich in 2007. Nor would Russia abandon its interests in energy rich Central Asia where too one western-backed “colour revolution” had taken place in Kyrgyzstan.

Russia is not returning to a classical version of the Cold War. It is today a post-imperialist authoritarian ‘democracy’ with a well-educated ever-expanding middle class determined to find an honourable place in the comity of nations. Even the diehard Russian Atlanticists now realise that Russia should throw its weight behind an accelerated transition to a multi-polar world. This means rekindling old friendships — China and India — and investment in new ones in its neighbourhood and in far away Latin America.

Logically, Pakistan should figure high on the list. But there is past baggage and also the primacy of time-tested Indo-Russian strategic partnership. There is not enough space today to plot the chequered course of Pakistan-Russia bilateral relations during the last sixty years. For much of the time they were less than friendly though punctuated by periodic efforts to put them on an even keel.

The last effort dates back to General Musharraf’s visit to Moscow in February 2003. There was optimism about a new beginning as it was followed by many other exchanges. The two sides differ on how the momentum was once again lost. President Zardari’s visit to China affords a valuable opportunity to explore how far the Chinese leadership would help remove the obstacles in the path of Pakistan-Russia cooperation.

On the Pakistani side, the Yaqub Khan syndrome of looking at Russia invariably through the prism of the hostility of the 1954-71 era has to be finally cast aside. Secondly, the Pakistan Foreign Office needs to be convinced that a world of multiple centres of political, economic and military power has already arrived. Despite huge flights of capital to the West, Russia today has 90,000 dollar millionaires and many of them are looking for increased interaction with markets in Asia.

In my experience, our own captains of trade and industry give up too quickly when confronted with difficulties of dealing with their Russian counterparts. Russian reluctance to sell arms to us because of their fear of losing lucrative contracts with India, some involving Israel as well, may continue for some more time. But as highly sophisticated hardware from the United States flows into India in the wake of the nuclear deal, even this reluctance may diminish.

It is also important to go beyond set piece Soviet-style cultural exchanges and encourage free interaction among universities, think tanks, media establishments and non-government civil society organisations. It is a project worth developing in our long-term national interest.

Tanvir Ahmad Khan is a former foreign secretary and a former ambassador to the Russian Federation. He can be contacted at