MOSCOW, January 15 /TASS/. The Pakistani authorities consider the ongoing dialogue with Russia to be productive and intend to develop ties in various spheres, including defense and energy projects, Tasnim Aslan, an official spokesperson of the Pakistani Foreign Ministry and the foreign minister’s adviser on work with the United Nations and economic cooperation, told TASS on Thursday.
“Russia and Pakistan are trying to enhance and develop relations in many areas. Pakistan’s Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Ishaq Dar has recently visited Moscow where a meeting of the inter-governmental working group for energy issues took place. It was very useful,” Tasnim Aslan said.
“We received Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu in Pakistan last year. The sides held fruitful discussions and adopted a set of measures aimed to strengthen defense cooperation. Now, time has come to materialize them in real life,” the Pakistani diplomat told TASS.
She said that her meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov had become part of the ninth round of a strategic dialogue between Russia and Pakistan.
“We held useful discussions in a very friendly atmosphere. Our views on various problems have much in common. It becomes particularly clear when a vote takes place at the United Nations. We vote similarly in 95% of cases,” Tasnim Aslan went on to say.
Asked whether Pakistan was planning to buy military hardware and weapons from Russia in a sign of developing defense contacts, she replied that opportunities to expand and strengthen the existing ties always appear as relations continue to develop.
“This is equally true of the purchases of military equipment and Russian investments in Pakistan and the development of infrastructure in our country by Russian companies,” Tasnim Aslan said adding the construction of a steel-making plant in Pakistan in the 1970s, the flagman of Pakistan’s steel industry, was a good example of that reciprocal cooperation. Therefore, we would like these relations to grow and develop in many spheres rather than just in one, the diplomat said. She mentioned several major projects. “We want Russia to participate in the implementation of infrastructure projects; the construction of dams as well as in energy projects. We maintain contacts with many companies, including Gazprom.
Commenting on a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry to Islamabad that took place on January 13, Tasnim Aslan said Pakistan was building bilateral relations with partners in a way that would not harm the interests of other states.
“We believe that countries develop bilateral relations on a mutually beneficial basis. This kind of ties can also have a positive impact on the region and the international situation. Not a single country can have ‘a right of veto’ on development of bilateral relations by other countries. Our aim is to develop independent contacts with all countries. We consider the foreign policy to be a ‘zero sum game’. Pakistan’s relations with the United States can in no way harm Pakistan’s relations with Russia and vice versa,” the Pakistani diplomat said in conclusion.