Pak, Russia entering new phase of strong relationship: Sharif

Russia and Pakistan, former cold war rivals, were entering into “a new phase of strong relationship,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said today, amid reports of a landmark defence agreement between the two countries that include sale of attack helicopters.

Sharif said this while meeting a Russian delegation led by Victor P Ivanov, Co-Chairman of the Russian-Pakistani Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Trade and Scientific Cooperation.

“Pakistan and Russia relations were entering into a new phase of strong relationship, which would usher in a new age of fruitful benefits for both the countries,” he said.

Sharif also said that Pakistan’s economy was growing fast and the country is becoming an attractive destination for foreign investors, especially in the field of energy.

He said Pakistan has taken a firm stance on terrorism and extremism to ensure a peaceful, stable and investor friendly environment and terrorists’ hideouts and infrastructure has been dismantled through effective offensive.

Ivanov said that Pakistan is a strong country with rich history and there exists a huge potential for mutual trade between Russia and Pakistan.

He said that there is a need for establishing direct flight between Moscow and Islamabad to benefit the traders and investors of both the countries.

Sharif also extended his invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin for inauguration of North South Gas Pipeline, which is the largest investment by Russia in Pakistan.

The Prime Minister further said that Pakistan attaches high value to its partnership with Russia in all areas including bilateral trade, economy and scientific and technical cooperation.

The two countries shared a thorny relationship during the cold war that worsened with Soviet Union’s entry in Afghanistan in 1980’s.

However, the two countries signed a landmark defence deal in August that included the sale of four Mi-35 ‘Hind E’ attack helicopters to Pakistan, signalling a major thaw in relations between the two cold-war rivals.