Russia’s Strategic Calculus in South Asia and Pakistan’s Role: Challenges and Prospects

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Abstract

Russia has begun to adopt a politically pronounced approach towards Pakistan, which indicates a shift in Moscow’s long-standing patterns of engagement with Islamabad. Against this background, this paper attempts to address this question as to what role Pakistan can play in Russia’s strategic calculus in South Asia and what policy options  needs to be adopted  for capitalising on Kremlin’s shifting posture. In terms of achieving its strategic, political and economic goals, Russia seems to assign a special place to Pakistan and this was reflected in Moscow’s engagement with Islamabad in the Afghan peace and reconciliation process, military-to-military collaboration and defence cooperation. Indeed, Pakistan fits well in Russia’s South Asia strategic calculus and the two countries can benefit a great deal from each other but the fact remains that there are many impediments and irritants as well. Moscow-Islamabad ties can flourish fully only if intensive dialogues are regularly convened between civil, military and economic institutions. Besides, Pakistan must expand and diversify its foreign policy options for capitalising the most from changing regional and international scenarios of which Russia’s evolving South Asia posture is but one element.

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