Relations through History and Culture: Pak-Russian Ties

By Bakhtiar Hakeem



With His name (always and every where) the Most benevolent and Most merciful Peace and security be upon you ____________

 “O mankind! Lo! We have created you from a single (pair) of male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know each other. Lo! The noblest of you in the sigh of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is knower, Aware. (Quran 49:13)

; Introduction. It is indeed a great honor and a matter of pleasure for me to stand here and present before this august house. Thank you very much. As you know the topic, it is Pak-Russia Relations through history and culture. I will try to do justice with in the stipulated time.

2.                  A Brief Account of Russia. We have flown over 3,600 km, crow flight, to be here in Russkaya Zemlya, the great land of great people. May it be Ruthenia or Rossiya—it is the biggest country in the world, and Moscow the biggest city. The country spreads over 17 million 75 thousand and 4 hundred square km in Eurasia.[1]  It covers more than 1/8th of Earth’s inhabited land area. It spans over 9 time zones, while the population stands at 142.9 million.[2]Russia is also number one in mineral and energy resources. And second largest oil and gas producer. It has world’s largest forest reserves and least astonishing its lakes contains 1/4th of world’s fresh water. When words get summarized they get reduced to figures. I have added a schedule to include figures on, vital statistics, population, education, communications, infra-structure, and industry. This schedule would also help present a comparative picture of last ten years.[3]   

2.1.            Russian culture has rich history and can boast a long tradition of excellence in every aspect of the arts, especially when it comes to literaturephilosophyclassical music, balletarchitecture, paintingcinema and animation. All this have had considerable influence on the world’s culture.[4] The country also has a rich material culture and a strong tradition in technology. With 81% Russians, 3.7 % Tatars, 1.4 % Ukrainians, 1.1% Baskirs; speaking and using 27 co-official languages, Russia has to be rich in all senses of the word. Politically we can trace from 9th century. In 10th century and 11th century ‘Kievan Rus’ was one of the most prosperous states in Europe. Coming to relatively recent times, a researcher can start from Tsars of Russia 1574, to Russian Empire 1721; the Peter the Great, to establishment of Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic 1917, to Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 1922 to Russian Federation set up in Dec 1991. Such has been the story of political development of a vibrant, politically assertive and ever growing people. The Soviet era saw some of the most technological achievements of 20th Century. It is spearheaded by first human space flight.

2.2.            Culturally rich in diversity, according to the Census 2010, some striking figures are as follows; urban population is 74% while rural is 26%; number of births per 1000 of population is 12.5 while number of deaths is 14.2; total births were 1789 and deaths 2031 per thousand persons. Natural deaths under one year of age were 13.4 per thousand babies. Life expectancy as of 2009 was 68.7 years. According to the census of 1989 Soviet Union was 70% East Slav, 12 % Turkic and rest were below 10%. Atheist or irreligious stand at 20%, Muslims around 15%, and there were sizeable minorities of Russian Orthodox. There are about 200 different languages and dialects in Russia.  90% of the population used Cyrillic script and nearly 70% spoke Russian language. Out of these there are 18 such languages which have one million or more speakers.

3.                  The major area of thrust of this Study is Pak-Russian relations. How much of these are influenced by the dictates and dynamics of history and culture will be one significant area of interest. We do have half a dozen or less of common words with Russian language. We all have read or at least listened to the fairy tales of Caucasia. We have been talking of the heavenly mountains of Caucasia and its mysterious and beautiful valleys, unparallel in the world. We have in our society Sahih Bukhari, one of shaha satta, Bukahris, Durrnais, Tatari, Mughals and some Mongols as well.  Fearing Siberian winds in winters, and waiting for geese, pintails and ducks from same place are part of our love hate relations. All of us know well about Khan Khagan Genghis Khan (reign 1206-27) and Hulagu Khan (reign 1256-1265).[5] And how our relation with Afghanistan, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Russia has been influenced by the shared civilization should be fascinating and intriguing, both. In the Parts to follow we shall examine both; but relations in last decade in greater details.    

4.                  Layout. After this brief but a rounded touch of the great Country, and a beginning, paragraph 3 ante refers; I will proceed to unfold and share my collection of information, review and views through following steps and stages.

4.1.            Part II, is a handsome account by volume, of the three neighboring cultures and civilizations i.e. Indian, Central Asian and Russian. It comprises a summary of multiplicity of sub-cultures in Himalayan and Eurasian world. Last two paragraphs give a summary as well as a beginning to the role played by history and culture visa via governments of the nation states, in international relations. The interstate relations are decided by the governments in power. Cultural affinities and differences stay either in the base or, on the periphery. We will examine it briefly.

4.2.            Indian subcontinent and Soviet Union. This would be relatively a brief part tracing the history from Tsardom in Russia to the end of British India. Giving a broad account of the relations as it existed before 1947. This would be Part III.

4.3.            Next, I will be rather deliberate. First, covering USSR relations with Pakistan in first three decades after the independence of the later. This would give us a deeper look into the relations of two countries. Cold War period and military invasion of Afghanistan were salient features of the history. Post Cold War are the two broad but definite divisions. This comprises the penultimate part; the Part IV.

4.4.            Last is Part V. This is about Russia-Pakistan’s relations, commencing 1991. The last lap started in 2007. This was the beginning of new era. I should be covering the gamut of relations starting with the areas of thrust, as described by Russian Prime Minister Mr. Mikhail Fredkov.[6] We will cover the areas of cooperation, and structures and multiple developments as these have taken place in the last five years. I would cover all important visits, participation in, and sharing different regional and international fora.  Signing of various Letter of Interest (LoI) and Memoranda of Understanding (MoU); going by a yearly calendar will comprise this Part.

4.5.            Towards the end I should make a brief conclusion, or if there are any expressions, comments and views, it would be my pleasure to listen to and be enriched and benefitted.



5.      The History and Culture of the Indian People. Let me pick the thread from the other end this time. The people of Pakistan belong to Indian subcontinent archeologically. Any study of history of mankind may it be under the title of anthropology or archeology will be based on the canvass of Indian plate or the triangular subcontinent or the south Asia jutting between Arabian Sea and Sea of Bengal dipping in to Indian ocean. Historian Ramesh Chandra Majumdar[7], popularly called the 'dean of Indian historians', who was the general editor of the Indian History series, took 26 years to complete his gigantic work. It covers the Indian history from prehistoric times to the establishment of the modern state in 1947.

5.1.            Indian culture. Indian culture differs from place to place within the country. It is often labeled as an amalgamation of diverse sub-cultures, spread all over the Indian subcontinent and traditions rich and old, by several millennia. Regarded by many historians as the "oldest living civilization of Earth", the Indian tradition dates back to 8000 BC. It has a continuous recorded history since the time of the Vedas. It is believed to be 3,000 to over 5,500 years ago. Several elements of Indian culture, such as  religionsyoga, and  cuisine, have had a profound impact across the world. Of course Himalayas has been quite an effective barrier.[8]

5.1.1.      Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb (???? ???? ?????. GangesYamuna Culture, a euphemism for the mutually participatory co-existence of Hindu and Muslim culture of Northern India. This term is used for the culture of the central plains of Northern India. Important names in the region and referred to be the center of this culture are;  LucknowKanpurFaizabad, Ayodhya, and Varanasi (Benares). Lucknow’s Oudhi culture brought together the best of the Persian and Mughal cultures of Islam and the Banarsi Raas rang. Khayal, ThumriGhazal and Kathak. Ustad Bismillah Khan was considered an embodiment of Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb. Kathak a fine dramatization of poetry in Urdu and Khari boli or Braj bhasha has evolved as an ensemble of Indo-Islamic music and dance and this repertoire is the most beautiful show-piece of Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb.[9]

5.1.2.      South Indian culture. This phrase refers to the culture of KarnatakaTamil NaduAndhra Pradesh and Kerala. South Indian culture with its visible differences forms an important part of the Indian culture. The South Indian Culture is essentially the celebration of the eternal universe through the celebration of the beauty of the body and motherhood. It is exemplified through its danceclothing, and sculptures.

5.1.3.      North Indian Culture. North Indian Culture represents the rich cultural heritage of the seven North Indian states of PunjabJammu & KashmirChandigarh, HaryanaHimachalPradeshUttarakhand and  Rajasthan. North Indian Culture pre-dominantly derives its roots from Indo-Aryan traditions and customs, with assimilation and impact from other cultures over long period of history. From Gandhara of 1 Century BC to Taj Mahal of 16th Century are all are part of North and North-western Indian culture. Gandhara was also a proposed name of Khyber-Pakhtunkhw a Province in Pakistan.[10] Let us move now northwards.

6.                  Central Asia. The idea of Central Asia as a distinct region of the world was introduced in 1843 by the geographer Alexander von Humboldt[11]. The borders of Central Asia are subject to multiple definitions. The most limited definition was the official one of the Soviet Union, which defined Middle Asia as consisting solely of UzbekistanTurkmenistanTajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. However, the Russian culture has two distinct terms: ??????? ???? (Srednjaja Azija or "Middle Asia and ??????????? ???? (Central'naja Azija or "Central Asia", the wider definition, which includes Central Asian lands that have never been part of historical Russia). It is the core region of the Asian continent and stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China in the east and from Afghanistan in the south to Russia in the north. It is also sometimes referred to as Middle Asia. Also called the 'stans" (as the five countries generally considered to be within the region all have names ending with that suffix). These fall within the scope of the wider Eurasian continent. In modern contexts, all definitions of Central Asia include these five republics of the former Soviet UnionKazakhstanKyrgyzstan, Tajikistan , Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, for a total population of 64.7 million as of 2012. Other areas included are, Afghanistannortheastern Iran, northern Pakistan, Mongolia, and sometimes Xinjiang and Tibet in western China and southern Siberia in eastern Russia.[12] Despite the uncertainty in defining borders, it does have some important overall characteristics. Central Asia has historically been closely tied to its nomadic people and the Silk Road. As a result, it has acted as a crossroads for the movement of people, goods, and ideas between EuropeWest AsiaSouth Asia, and East Asia.

6.1.            Geography. Central Asia is an extremely large region of varied geography, including high passes and mountains (Tian Shan), vast deserts(Kara KumKyzyl KumTaklamakan), and especially treeless, grassy steppes. The vast steppe areas of Central Asia are considered together with the steppes of Eastern Europe as a homogeneous geographical zone known as the Eurasian Steppe. Much of the land of Central Asia is too dry or too rugged for farming.[13] The Gobi desert extends from the foot of the Pamirs, 77° E, to the Great Khingan (Da Hinggan) Mountains, 116°–118° E.[14]

6.2.            The history of Central Asia. It has been and translated and defined by the area's climate and geography. The aridness of the region made agriculture difficult, and its distance from the sea cut it off from much trade. Thus a few major cities developed in the region; instead, the area was dominated by the nomadic horse peoples of the steppe for millennia. Relations between the steppe nomads and the settled people in and around Central Asia were long marked by conflict. The nomadic lifestyle was well suited to warfare, and the steppe horse riders became some of the most potent warriors in the world, limited only by their lack of internal unity. Any internal unity that was achieved was most probably due to the influence of the Silk Road, which traveled along Central Asia. Periodically, great leaders or changing conditions would organize several tribes into one force and create an almost unstoppable power. These included the Hun invasion of Europe, the Wu Hu attacks on China and most notably the Mongol conquest of much of Eurasia. During pre-Islamic and early Islamic times, Central Asia was a predominantly Iranian region that included the sedentary Eastern Iranic speaking BactriansSogdians and Chorasmians, and the semi-nomadic Scythians and Alans. The ancient sedentary population played an important role in the history of Central Asia. After expansion by Turkic peoples, Central Asia also became the homeland for many Turkic, people, including KazakhsUzbeksTurkmenKyrgyz and Uyghurs. The Study of Central Asian people was most diligently pursued by Russian scholars under the Tsars. The name of Radloff and Barthold are known widely.  Central Asia is sometimes referred to as Turkestan. And we in Pakistan are well aware of these words, names and phrases. From the 17th century, up to the end of the 20th century, most of Central Asia has been part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. As of 2011, the "stans" are still home to about 7 million Russians and 500 thousand Ukrainians.

  Pak-China Relationship: Newer Horizons

7.                  Russian Culture. Russian culture started from that of the East Slavs, with their pagan beliefs and specific way of life in the wooded areas of Eastern Europe. Early on, the culture of Russian ancestors was much influenced by neighboring Finno-Ugric tribes and by nomadic, mainly Turkic, peoples of the Pontic steppe. In the late 1st millennium AD the Scandinavian Vikings, or Varangians, also took part in shaping the Russian identity and that of Kievan Rus' state. Kievan Rus' had accepted Orthodox Christianity from the Eastern Roman Empire in 988, and this largely defined the Russian culture of next millennium as the synthesis of Slavic and Byzantine cultures. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Russia remained the largest Orthodox nation in the world and claimed succession to the Byzantine legacy in the form of the Third Rome idea. At different points in its history, the Country also was strongly influenced by the culture of Western Europe. Since reforms of Peter the Great, Russian culture largely developed in the general context of European culture rather than pursuing its own unique ways. The situation changed in the 20th century, when the Communist ideology became a major factor in the culture of the Soviet Union, where Russia, was the largest and the leading part. Nowadays, Russian cultural heritage is ranked seventh in the Nation Brands Index.

8.                  The Multiplicity and Rainbow of Cultures. Before I close this part with some conclusions, here is a run through of cultures of Himalayas and Eurasia.[15] It should not be surprising to note that there are about 160 ethnic groups in Russia.

8.1.            Birch Culture. Oroqen people, using birch bark. These are the people of Eurasia and North America. White bark has spiritual value in several Himalayan religions. Birch culture is also related with reindeer herding. 

8.2.            Ainu Culture. The Ainu, also called Aynu, in historical texts Ezo, are indigenous people or groups in Japan and Russia. Historically, they spoke the Ainu language and related varieties and lived in Hokkaid?, the Kuril Islands, and much of Sakhalin. Most of those who identify themselves as Ainu still live in this same region, though the exact number of living Ainu is unknown. This is due to confusion over mixed heritages and to ethnic issues in Japan resulting in those with Ainu backgrounds hiding their identities

8.3.            Urheimat Culture. North western Caucasian and Indo European culture. It spreads to south Caucasia.

8.4.            Fraxinus. Another Indo-European culture. It is related to Ash tree.

8.5.            Kambojas.The Kambojas (SanskritKambojaPersian: ?????‎, were kshatriya tribe of Iron Age India. Modern scholars conclude that the Kambojas were an Avestan speaking Eastern Iranian tribe at the boundary of the Indo-Aryans and the Iranians, and appear to have moved from the Iranian into the Indo-Aryan sphere over time. The Kambojas migrated into India during the Indo-Scythian invasion from the 2nd century BCE to 5th century CE. Their descendants controlled various principalities in Medieval India.

9.                  Counting Similarities & Commonalities. During excavations in the territories of former Kievan Rus, silver coins (dirhams) of Indian currency of 9th and 10th centuries were found.[16] Archeological discoveries made in vast areas of Central Asia prove strong economic ties, in applied arts and architecture with India.  Through out the medieval period, political and cultural contacts as well as trade in these regions continued.  Bhagvad Gita was published in Russia in 1788.[17] The first to come after Islamic conquest of Central Asia were the two famous Khwarzam scholars, Abu Rehan Alberuni and Abdurrazak Samarkandi. Contributions of Alberuni in science, philosophy, arts and customs and traditions of Indian people are outstanding. Some of early Sultans of India had their origin in Central Asia. Their rule renewed and expanded trade and cultural contacts. During the long period of Mughal rule, names like Bukhara, Samarkand, Tashkent, Merv, Khiva became an integral part of Indian cultural concepts and literature. The oldest written account of India in Russia was found in 12th or 13th Century. It was Slavonic translation of a Latin tale, which describes India as ‘a rich country not on fire’ but ‘all shining in gold’. A Russian merchant from Tver named Afanasi Nikitin, some fifty years before Vasco de Gama; came to India. He made India his second home and lived here from 1466 to 1472. Filipp Yefremov is another important name to mention. Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich was the first Russian ruler to make attempt to establish direct diplomatic relations with Grand Mughal.[18] Lastly in this regard I may mention publication of a book Bharta-Rus. An Introduction to Indo-Russian Contacts and Travels from Medieval Times to October Revolution, by P M Kemp in New Delhi.[19] This brief collage of words also shows the overlapping and common areas; how large and brief these were. How and how much role the commonalities and shared cultural values can play in the interstate or bilateral relations, in contemporary times, is an intriguing question.

10.              Role of History and Culture. History and culture is what binds people in their customs and traditions. In their value system, exhibited through languages, art and civilization. But how much do the commonality of culture affect the interstate relations is yet to be evaluated. We have viewed, seen and examined briefly a number of cultures of Eurasia. How can a student of this subject overlook Anglo French rivalry and almost a never ending war. It started in 1202 and comes down to 1815.[20] World War I was fought mainly in Europe. All the belligerents were very closely knit in history and culture. England sided with USA, and fought with Germany.  We could examine the Korean case in the same context. Korean culture is prevalent and in practice over the length and breadth of Korean peninsula. How about North and South relations across thirty-eight parallel. Next door is Japan, seen as an ex-occupier and an imperialistic country by the Koreans. They share similar culture and the edges of same waters. There is a rich middle-east culture. The hub of so called three great Ibrahamic religions.  They share same geography, waters of River Jordan and tales of Arabian Nights. Yet the two banks of Dead Sea, just 12 km apart are most intolerant of each other. How are the relations of Israel with its neighbors, and ironically how are its relations with America.  Let us see the case of Indian sub-continent. Punjab stands divided politically between India and Pakistan, so is Bengal divided between Bangladesh and India. Islam and Sikhism not only spread but permeate the soil of Punjab. People are really friendly with each other yet, it is the nation state governments which decide, call the shots and translate their competing and rather intriguing interests in to inter-state relations.  



11.              General. This part is the study of the evolution of Russian attitudes towards South Asia. Of course our area of focus would be Indian subcontinent to begin with and Pakistan to end with. It was Czarist Russia which contended for the domination of Asia during 19th Century. [i] This exercise in geopolitical leadership came to be known as Great Game. British imperialism was the principal rival. Creation of Afghanistan as buffer state between the two was a kind of settlement in South Asia. Soviet Union, who followed Czarist Russia, gave totally new dimensions to the competition with the West. The emergence of USSR as one of the two super powers was the underlying factor. A socialist bloc emerged with USSR as leader to contest American imperialism, or the capitalism.  And this four decade long period is now known in the history as Cold War. For our purpose and interest we will go by the year 1947 as the watershed for tracing the relations of USSR and South Asia. In 1947 India and Pakistan won their independence from British Raj. Not only these two there were other smaller dominions like Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal; all got free from the British rule or control in the spate of same period.  

11.1.        During the period of Cold War, which ended in 1989; Pakistan and India were aligned in two opposite blocks. This historical fact explains and serves as a pointer what was to follow. India and Pakistan had their array of indigenous problems in addition; they were drawn in to global rivalries, being in opposite blocs.

11.2.        Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan from 1979 to 89, engaged Pakistan deeply and with adverse affects.  In hind site even Russians today view this adventure in Afghanistan as a folly.  However the ramifications have taken dreadful consequences, and there appears to be only a foggy end, thirty years down the line.

12.              Tsardom of Russia and Mughal India. The Tsardom of Russia (also known as Tsardom of Muscovy, was the name of the centralized Russian state from Ivan IV's assumption of the title of Tsar in 1547 until Peter the Great, who laid the foundation of the Russian Empire in 1721. From 1550 to 1700, Russia grew at a great pace. However, this growth was primarily westward. It included momentous military expeditions. Russian conquest of Siberia in east, led to the 42-year reign of Peter the Great, who ascended in 1682 and transformed the Tsardom into a major European power, after a military victory over Sweden and Poland . He implemented substantial reforms and proclaimed the Russian Empire, in 1721.  Making it a recognized European power.[21] This period roughly coincided with the establishment of a new dynasty in Indian sub-continent. Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids and Genghis Khan; the great warriors coming from Central Asian steppe. They defeated down all resistance down the Khyber Pass in to the north Indian plains. The Mughal Empire began in 1526. At the height of their power in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, they controlled most of the Indian Subcontinent—extending from Bengal in the east to Baluchistan in the west, Kashmir in the north to the Kaveri basin in the south. Its population at that time has been estimated between 110 and 150 million, over a territory of more than 3.2 million square kilometers (1.2 million square miles). The Mughal Empire reached the zenith of its territorial expansion during the reign of Aurangzeb. During his lifetime, victories in the south expanded the Mughal Empire to more than 1.25 million square miles, ruling over more than 150 million subjects, nearly 1/4th of the world's population.[22] East India Company entered the subcontinent in early 17th Century. In 1612, Sir Thomas Roe was instructed by James I to visit the Mughal Emperor Nuruddin Salim Jahangir (r. 1605-1627) to arrange for a commercial treaty which would give the Company exclusive rights to reside and build factories in Surat and other areas. Company became the forerunner of British Raj. We can telescope the period till 1858, when East India Company was withdrawn to let British royalty to rule India directly through the office of viceroy.

13.              Russian Empire, USSR and British India. Peter the Great who proclaimed an Empire in 1721 defeated Sweden in Great North War and forced to cede huge territories. His interest in West led him to found a new capital, Saint Petersburg. Later it was known as Russia’s Window to Europe. The Will of Peter the Great, as given in ‘Des Progres de loa Puissance Russe’ by M. Lesur published in Paris in 1812, carries about XIV paragraphs. Here is paragraph VIII for you, “Bear in mind that the commerce of India is the commerce of the World, and that he who can exclusively control it is the dictator of Europe; no occasion should therefore be lost to provoke war with Persia, to hasten its decay, to advance to the Persian Gulf, and then to endeavor to re-establish the ancient trade of the Levant through Syria.” [23]


14.               Elisabeth (1741-62) was next, then came Catherine (the Great) II (1762-96). She defeated Ottoman Empire in Russo-Turkish wars, thus taking the boundaries of Russia to Black Sea. Tashkent was captured in 1865, Samarkand three years later, and Kiev in 1873. The advance towards Indian sub-continent continued. It was about middle of 19th Century when Russian shadow started falling across British vision in India. Britain had just succeeded to the Sikhs in Punjab and was busy consolidating the territories now called Khyber Pakhtoon Kha (KPK).  From around 1730s to 1896, if one could have a map, Russian hold grew from the northern tip of Caspian to Wakhan, on the southern slopes of Pamirs.[24] Thus two imperialist powers, two colonial powers, expanding fast, their domains and areas of influence were coming closer and closer. The modern state of Afghanistan came into being in 1709  with the rise of the Pashtuns, when the Hotaki dynasty was established in Kandahar followed by Ahmad Shah Durrani's rise to power in 1747. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in the ‘Great Game’ between the British and Russian empires.  The classic Great Game period is generally regarded as running approximately from the Russo-Persian Treaty of 1813 to the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907. A second, less intensive phase followed the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The Great Game ended as the United Kingdom entered the post WW2 post-colonial period. Now USSR had emerged as a victor, holding one pole of the bi-polar world along with USA as the only rival. This was also the beginning of two new states emerging out of British India; India and Pakistan.




15.              General. The creation of Pakistan in August 1947 was not seen as a favorable development in Moscow. The Soviet Union regarded the division of Indian Subcontinent as ‘the divide and rule’ strategy of British policy. Russia had earlier labeled the Muslim League as a tool of the British, from its very inception.[25] The Moscow paper, New Times wrote on July 4, 1947, that British calculations were based “on an aggravation of national antagonisms” and “on the creation of a situation that will favor British interference in India’s internal affairs”[26]. While both Indian and Pakistani leaders were subjected to criticism, Pakistan was considered more favorite tool of imperialism. There was no customary message of congratulations for the Governor General. Rather it moved slowly in extending its diplomatic recognition to Pakistan. The first move to establish diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Russia was not made till April 13, 1948.  The first Pakistani ambassador presented his papers as late as Dec 1949.

16.              Stalin viewed the independence of Pakistan and India as a myth and continued to regard them as appendages of Anglo-American imperialism. And this approach was to cast shadow rather dictate interstate relations in the region over next decades. During a speech in Poland in Sep 1947, Andrei Zhadnov a close friend of Stalin drew the battle lines between the two camps clearly, the democratic and imperialistic.

17.              The Non-Aligned Year. At the time of the emergence the existing international system was characterized by the tight bi-polarity of the Cold War. Pakistan faced serious problems of security and development. The manner of partition had the worst adverse impacts territorially, economically and financially on Pakistan. Issue of Kashmir and river water disputes were serious and of immediate concern. The Kashmir dispute could not find a place in the early agenda of the Commonwealth Conference, where, after a strong protest by the then Pakistani Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, it was only informally discussed. Some scholars and historian name it the period of search of ‘bloc’ or alignment but more popularly it is (1947-1953) known as the era of non-alignment. The expert on Asia, Zhukov, speaking to the Soviet Academy of Sciences in June 1949, discounted the rotten notion of any middle road between capitalism and socialism. He dubbed nationalist leaders like Nehru and Gandhi “lackeys of imperialists” and “betrayers of their nations”[27]

18.              Pakistan’s early policy of non-involvement in the power politics did not pay. Regarding the Kashmir dispute, Soviet Union maintained a neutral and non-committal attitude, while the Western members of the Security Council initially strove to settle the Kashmir dispute. Since the status quo was acceptable to India, and not to Pakistan; Soviet attitude in effect favored India. In a session of the UN Economic Commission for Asia and Far East in 1948, Pakistan made it clear that she would accept aid from any source, but the Soviets did not respond to that request.[28]

19.              However, two events in the first part of 1949 caused Russia and Pakistan to take a fresh look at their relationship. The first was India’s decision in April 1949 to remain within the Commonwealth. In contravention to India’s own past declarations, it was a clear sign that she was leaning towards the Western countries, the US-led camp, and thus on the opposing side of the USSR. The second was Indian Prime Minister Nehru’s announcement on May 7, 1949, that he had accepted an invitation to visit the United States in October of that year. In reaction to this, the Soviet Union extended an invitation to Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, in 1949 to visit Moscow.  However, inexplicably Liaquat Ali Khan went to United States instead, thus shelving his visit to Russia.

20.              Western Bloc and Cold War Period. Pakistan decided to join the Western security alliance system, SEATO in 1954 and CENTO in 1955. It was a rather an abrupt change in its earlier non-aligned foreign policy. This phase in Pakistan’s foreign policy is generally regarded as the Era of Alliances (1954-1962). The following reasons can be forwarded for this change in Pakistan’s foreign policy.

20.1.         Although the Western security alliance system was aimed to check the spread of communism, yet Pakistan hoped to acquire substantial economic and military aid to bolster its defences against India, with which it had an outstanding dispute over Kashmir and had fought a limited war in 1948.

20.2.        Pakistan felt that with its membership of the Western security alliance system, it could seek a solution of the Kashmir dispute.

20.3.        The elites of Pakistan were under the Western influence and were advocating Pakistan’s joining of Western alliance system.

20.4.        Ideologically, Pakistan was more akin to the West (US) than to the Soviet Union.

21.              Post-1945 period may have been the historical high point for the popularity of communist ideology. The burdens the Red Army and the Soviet Union endured had earned it massive respect. Mikhail Gorbachev was a revolutionary leader, as he was the first to promote liberalization of the political landscape (Glasnost) and capitalist elements into the economy (Perestroika). USSR was deeply interested in reducing the costly arms race.  

22.              The Soviet Hosting of Tashkent Conference in January 1966 was a land mark in the history of Soviet policy towards Indo-Pak and more so for Pakistan. If a party could derive complete satisfaction from the Conference it was Soviet Union. Soviet diplomacy had achieved dramatic breakthrough. Now USSR had emerged as a peace maker while America was escalating war in Vietnam.

23.              Pak-Russian Relations. Soviet efforts to cultivate Pakistan stepped up after Tashkent Agreement. High powered delegations exchanged visits, and cooperation in economic assistance also increased. USSR provided $176 million while overall trade reached a level of $326 million, as against $3.7 millions ten years earlier.[29] Very briefly:

23.1.        A delegation headed by Air Marshall Nur Khan, CAS visited Russia in July 1966.

23.2.        FM Ayub Khan visited Russia in Sep-Oct 1967, however arms flow to India continued.

23.3.        1968 Russian Premier Kosygin visited, and announced a limited supply of arms and ammunition. Pakistan terminated the lease of Badaber (Peshawar) Base to USA.

23.4.        General Yahya signed an agreement for construction of Steel Mills at Karachi, while in Moscow in June 1970.

23.5.        However, the events of 1971 dramatically took an about turn for Pak-Russian relations. Since Russia following its long standing stance, supported politico-military uprising in erstwhile East Pakistan.

24.              Russian Military Intervention in Afghanistan (1979-89). Soviet invasion in Dec 79 set in motion a major destabilizing process in the region. It affected all; Central Asia, South Asia, China and the rival super power, US. After the military intervention mistrust and apprehensions loomed large for about a decade.  US found it an opportunity to settle the scores with USSR. USSR blamed Pakistan, Iran and even China for fomenting dissident activity. Refugee exodus was a serious outfall of military intervention for Pakistan. The number of Afghan refugees reached 300, 000[30] The refugee camps were not only boarding and lodging shelters but gradually became the source of recruitment for freedom fighters. Gen Zia provided for a conduit to American support, supplies, arms and ammunition and training for Afghan resistance. President Brezhnev refuted the charges of expansionist designs against Pakistan and Iran. Andrei Gromyko in his speech in Jan 27, 1980 at Damascus refuted that Russia was trying to reach to warm waters. He blamed US and Pakistan for their intervention in Afghanistan, and considered it as threat to the security of Russia. To top, Pakistan was warned that it risked a direct military confrontation with Soviet Union. Pakistan was asked to stop its support and assistance for Afghan resistance.  This was told to Agha Shahi, FM of Pak by Gromyko in New York during the UN General Assembly in 1980. Mr. Gromyko rattled its nuclear sword also.[31]

25.              February 1989 Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan brought about a major and a strategic change in the region. It was almost a negotiated defeat. However, there was yet another surprise in the offing. A new country titled Russian Federation came in to being out of Union of Soviet Socialist Republic. It was Dec 1991.




26.              General. It was a uni-polar world after 1991. One out of the two superpowers had declined and relinquished. From over 22.4 million square km it reduced to some 17 million square km. Fifteen (15) states broke away from USSR over a short period.[32]  Our point of focus is however, Pak-Russia relations. From Gorbachev to Boris Yeltsin to Vice President Rutskoi gradually realized to have better relations with Pakistan. Nov 92 Sardar Assef Ali, Minister of State for Economic Affairs, visited Russia. Dec 92, Rutskoi returned the visit.[33] Both sides discussed a draft agreement for cooperation on the political, economic, commercial, scientific, technical and cultural fields. The joint communiqué issued at the occasion was very promising. It focused on developing relations with Muslim states devoid of ideological obstacles. It supported Pakistan’s proposal of:

26.1.         Five Nation Conference on Nuclear Non-proliferation,

26.2.        of  Nuclear Free Zone in South Asia, and

26.3.        it mentioned settlement of Kashmir issue on the basis of international agreements.

27.              The growing relations could well be indicated by the inauguration of an international conference held in Moscow in April 92. It was on the relations between Pakistan and CIS. It followed a series of exchange of delegations at various levels. The gamut of subjects, concerns and interests also increased rapidly. It covered defence, outer space technology and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. International Affairs, January 1993; a monthly magazine in Moscow, had a chapter titled “Russia and South Asia”. It focused on Russian relations with India and Pakistan.  It had mentioned Russia to be ‘Renewed Great Power’. Taking the process of improvement further, Boris Yeltsin invited Benazir Bhutto to visit Russia in Dec 94. It was also a move to address Pakistan’s growing concerns on Russo-Indian relations. Sardar Assef Ali again visited Moscow in July 94. Talks covered a wide range of subjects of mutual interests. Sep 95 leader of Russian Parliamentary delegation to Pakistan, Alexander Vengerovsky disclosed that Russia was ready to supply military hardware to Pakistan.

28.              The next important land mark was visit of Nawaz Sharif to Moscow in April 99. It was visit of a Pakistani premier in 25 years. Russian termed it as new chapter in the relations of two countries. The creation of a commission for inter-governmental trade and economics was signed. In response to the request and desire of PM Nawaz Sharif, Russian FM, Igor Ivanov stated “that Russia had fulfilled and continued to fulfill an important mission, aimed at the normalization of relations between India and Pakistan.[34] Both sides spoke in favor of asserting the principles of stability and security in the world. And work for creating a multi-polar world. In Sep 2000 the Security Chief of Russian Govt. Sergei Yastrzhembsky, visited Pakistan. During the discussion, situation in Afghanistan occupied top priority. Russian Security Chief termed it as ‘cautious optimism’. He tried to stipulate a condition of ‘concrete deeds’ before the Russian President, Putin, could visit Pakistan. He did express that Russia had gained nothing by not engaging Pakistan on the issue of Afghanistan. Minister for Interior, General Moin-ud-Din briefing included efforts undertaken by Pakistan to fight terrorism, drug trafficking, illegal immigration and computerization of related data. Moin-ud-Din agreed to conclude an extradition treaty with Russia. In May 2001 Russian Ambassador, Edward Shevchenko met with Federal Minister for Privatisation, Altaf M. Saleem. Saleem expressed the hope for Russian investment in financial sector, gas companies and industrial mega projects like Pakistan Steel Mills and Pak-Saudi Fertilizer Company. Russian Ambassador stressed the need for exchange of experts and expanding the existing economic and trade interaction.

  US: The Gatekeepers

29.              Some Areas of Concern. Russian and Central Asian leadership viewed religious extremism being encouraged by external actors, like Afghan Taliban and some extremist groups in Pakistan. One area which remained a source of worry all along, was Russo-Indian Military relationship. Some sectors in Pakistan harbored a misgiving that Russia was anti-Pakistan right from its creation.[35] Some thought Islamic foundation of Pakistan and Marxist background of Russia made them divergent. Russian push to warm waters was always a handy bogie, and it was used widely to support baseless fears. After decades of assumptions and speculations, Russian archives disapprove of such fears.[36]Russian military invention and later, Afghan occupation, as mentioned above, remained sources of trouble between the two countries. Of course Russia was never pleased with Pakistan supporting Afghan resistance, especially as a stooge to USA. Or acting as a conduit for American arms and ammunition. Russians also pointed out that invasion of Pakistan was “beyond our strategic plans”.[37] It is hoped Pakistan now has an important place in Russia’s foreign policy, being one of major influential Muslim country.[38]

30.              New Era: April 2007. The spell was broken by a landmark visit of Russian Premier, Mikhail Fredkov in April 2007.[39] It was almost four decades that a Russian leader had visited Pakistan. Fredkov termed his visit an ‘important step’ for strengthening bilateral ties, with special focus on economic cooperation. Follow up of Fredkov’s visit should have been more vigorous and more objective. However, It remained below par. Minister of Petroleum visited Moscow on Nov 19th. And a MoU was signed laying down the road to joint collaboration in oil and gas sector.[40] The stepping stones in the years to follow, measuring the progress in the relations are enumerated below, year wise.

31.              2008

31.1.        Qureshi, F M of Pakistan met with the Foreign Ministers of Russia and New Zealand, at the 63rd UN General Assembly session in New York. Qureshi and Russian FM Sergei V Lavrov, both looked for common understanding while important political developments were taking place in the area.[41]

31.2.        Russian gas company, Gazprom was interested in participating in the IPI project.[42]

32.              2009

32.1.        Gilani and Putin agreed to re-launch their inter-government’s commissions by the end 2009 to revitalize bilateral relations with focus on infrastructure development, energy, rail-link, heavy industry and up- gradation of Pakistan Steel Mills. 

32.2.        Russia announced its support for the resumption of composite dialogue between India and Pakistan,

33.              2010. “Without any conditions here we are your allies in full sense of the word” said Putin while meeting Gilani on Nov 25th, on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), in Dushanbe.[43]

33.1.        There was hardly any worthwhile defence hardware agreement between the two countries, except Maverick helicopter deal in 1969. Pakistan had expressed its interest now in buying MI-35 Attack Helicopters.   

33.2.        Pakistan’s Chairman Board of Investment (BoI), Saleem H. Mandviwalla, visited Russia in Oct. Rao Ves, an electric power company also expressed its desire to set up a plant of 200 MW in Pakistan.[44]

33.3.        Pak-Russia inked MoU to pursue joint projects and cooperation in oil and gas sector, in Nov. The MoU was signed between Federal Minister for Petroleum Naveed Qamar and Russian Minister for Energy, S I Shmatko at Moscow.

33.4.        Business prospects were also discussed with Bank VTB, one of the leading universal banks of Russia and largest in terms of authorized capital.  National Bank of Pakistan will also open its branch in Russia, it was agreed to.[45]

33.5.        MoU was signed between Ministry of Narcotics Control of Pakistan and Federal Drug Control Service of Russia, in Oct.

33.6.        Russian investors were keen to invest in joint ventures in Pakistan, stated by Oleg Gorbulin the Chief Executive of Russian national Investment Agency during his visit to Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

34.              2011. President Dmitry Medvedev and Asif A. Zardari, met in Kermlin on May 12th. This was first visit by Zardari. Both expressed that enhanced cooperation would develop strong bilateral relationship.[46] The areas identified were; trade, investment and joint projects in the field of energy, infrastructure, metal industry and agriculture.

34.1.        Both sides showed interest in implementation of projects related to creation of a system of transmission of power from Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan.(CASA-1000). And also building of gas pipeline Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI).

34.2.        Four MsoU were signed: on Air Service, on Energy Cooperation, on Agriculture Cooperation, and on Promotion of Investment.[47]

34.3.        Sixth Meeting of Pakistan Russia Consultative, e-Group on Strategic Stability held in January in Islamabad.

35.       Conclusion.  We have examined through very selective and a powerful telescope a period of about thirteen centuries. It covered almost one fourth of the globe, starting from permafrost of Siberia to the warm waters of Indian Ocean. It covered from east to west no less than a spread covering nine time zones. I will have to dare oversimplification and brute summarization. The telescope focused on three areas; history, culture and the ever fluctuating interstate relations. History and culture provided a far more permanent and solid grounds to the peoples to stand on, rather than diplomatic, political, economic, war and peace undulations.

35.1.    Our mountains are awesome and rugged yet the routes are silky. Our headgears are from Karakul and we share same Chai (tea). We cherish same winds, birds and dogs. We were and shall continue to be Asians sharing long, deep, beautiful and mysterious roots embedded in Caucasia.  

35.2.    States would form and transform. Systems and governments would continue to evolve, dissolve and reform. Administrations would range from cautious to bold, leaders would range from introvert to extrovert, but we the people would live on like life….[Russian………………………………………………………….] 


Annex A



Data from Population Census


Total. Thou persons

Of which

Percentage of total













Total Vital Stat 5.3




Natural inc/dec

Infant deaths under 1 yr old











Total Vital Statistics 5.4


Per thou of population

Infants deaths under 1 yr old per 1000 live births


No. of births

No. deaths

Natural Inc/dec












Marriages and Divorces 5.5



Per thous of Population
















Death Rates by Main Classes of Causes of Death 5.6




Deaths by All causes



Diseases of circulatory system


798 (+)

Transport injuries


20 (-)



23 (-)

Diseases of Digestive system


64  (+)



Life expectancy at Birth 5.7


Total Population












Main Socio Economic Indicators of Living Sts 7.1




Percentage of GDP



Real Disposal money income, percentage to pervious yr



Av accrued monthly wages employed in the economy RUR(before 2000- thus RUR)



Pre School Educational Institutions 8.1




pre-school educational institutions thou



Children at pre-schl edn insti thou



Day n Night attendance gps



Children per hund places



Coverage of children of 1-6 yrs (percentage)



 No. of General Educational Institutions 8.2





68, 804



Higher Educational Institutions 8.9







Public and Municipal



Non public



No. of students total, thou



Basic Indicators of Public Health 9.1




No. of physicians thou



Per 10, 000 population



No. of hosp beds total, thou


1373 (-)

Per 10, 000 population



Capacity of polyclinics no of patients visits per shift total, thou



Per 10, 000 population



Production Indices by Kind of economic Activities 14.3




2010 %age of 2009




Manufacture of food products incl beverages & tobacco



Manufacture of textile & textile products



Manufacture of pulp, paper & paper products, publishing & printing



Manufacture of coke, refined petro products & nuclear fuel



Manufacture of chemicals, chem. Products n man made fiber



Manufacture of basic metal & fabricated metal products



Manufacture of machinery & equipment



Manufacture o f electrical, electronic and optical eqpt



Electricity, gas & water production & supply



 Length of Transport Lines 18.9

Thou km




Public rail road tracks



Motor rds total


Tramways Lines



Trolley – bus lines



Subway lines, km



Main pipeline-total



Gas pipeline



Oil pipeline



Oil products pipeline



Internal navigable waterways



Balance of Payments 26.1

Mln US $




Current Acct



Goods and Services







(-) 61091

(-) 321008


Meetings & Interviews

1.      Ganich, D., Political Counselor embassy of Russia  in Pakistan, April 21, 2012

2.      Glinkin, V., Head of Russian Friendship House, Karachi.

3.      Pavlov, Y. I., Vice Counselor Embassy of  Russia in Pakistan, April 21, 2012

4.      Qureshi, Z. A., President Society for Asian Civilizations, and Head of Department of International Affairs, National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad

5.      Saadat, K., retired Air Chief Marshall

6.      Shreter, V., Counselor at Russian Embassy, Islamabad


7.      Bhatty, M. A., Great Powers and South Asia: Post Cold war Trends, Islamabad, Institute of Regional Studies,1996

8.      Chatterjee B., Indo Soviet Friendship, New Delhi, S Chand & Co. (Pvt) Ltd,  1974

9.      Gleb I. and K. Nikolai, The Soviet –Indian Phenomenon, New Delhi, Allied Publishers Ltd, 1989

10.  Olaf, C., Soviet Empire, London, MacMillan & Co Ltd, 1954

11.  Jalalzai, M. K., Taliban and the Post Taliban Afghanistan, Lahore, Snage Meel Publications, 2003

12.  Kidwai, S., Indo-Soviet Relations, New Delhi, Rima Publishing House, 1985

13.  By an Indian Officer, Russia’s March towards India, Vol II, London, Sampson Low, Marston & Co.,1894


14.  International Affairs, January 1993. A Monthly, Moscow


15.  Tayyab Siddiqui, Nov 30, 2010 Pakistan-Russian Relations,  The Express Tribune

16.   Dawn Oct 3, 2010, Russian Firm Keen to enhance PS Capacity

17.  Dawn, Oct 15, 2009, Gilani Putin Agree to Strengthen Ties, by Shamim ur Rehman

18.  Basam Javed, January 21, 2011, Pak-Russia Relations in Afghanistan Matrix,  The News

19.  The News, January 25, 2011, Pakistan Russia vow to Overcome Decade of Distrust

20.  Dawn Nov 7, 2010, A Press Release…

21.  The News May 13, 2011, Pakistan Russia agree to promote trade, investment

22.  Cowasjee A., March13, 2011, A Recap of Soviet Pakistan Relations, Dawn

23.  Khalid R., May 5, 2011, Opening New Chapter with Russia Urged, by Tariq Fatimi, The News

Electronic Source






29.…/demography of the…




[1] Map 1


[3] Annex A Russia by Figures


[6] Tayyab Siddique, Express Tribune, Nov 30,2010


[12] Map 2


[13] Map 3


[14] ibid


[16] Gleb I. and K. Nikolai, The Soviet –Indian Phenomenon, New Delhi, Allied Publishers Ltd, 1989, p3


[17] ibid, p11


[18] Chatterjee B., Indo Soviet Friendship, New Delhi, S Chand & Co. (Pvt) Ltd,  1974, p7


[19] Op cit, p5


[23] By an Indian Officer, Russia’s March towards India, Vol II, London, Sampson Low, Marston &   Co.,1894, p300


[24] Olaf, C., Soviet Empire, London, MacMillan & Co Ltd, 1954, p73


[26] Dr. Bhatty M. A., Great Powers and South Asia: Post Cold war Trends, Islamabad, Institute of Regional Studies,1996, p101


[27] ibid


[28] Op cit


[29] Bhatty op cit


[30] ibid


[31] Bhatty, op cit


[32] Map 4


[33] Adnan,  op cit


[34] Adnan, op cit



[35] Cowsjee, Dawn March 13, 2011


[36] ibid


[37] ibid


[38] Siddiqui, The Express Tribune, Nov 30, 2010


[39] ibid


[40] ibid


[41] The News, Sep 26, 2008


[42] ibid


[43] Siddiqui, op cit


[44] Amin, Dawn Oct 3, 2010


[45] ibid


[46] The News, May 13, 2011


[47] ibid