The hopes of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s first trip to Pakistan have been met after Islamabad and Moscow last week signed a new gas pipeline agreement from Karachi to Kasur, officials said on Monday.
The North-South Gas Pipeline which has now been renamed the Pakistan Oil Pipeline is a well-known task that the two countries have been pursuing since they decided to attack their Cold War dispute and enter a new era of integration.
The agreement was first signed in 2015 but due to US potential for Russian and other companies, the 1,122-mile pipeline project could not be launched.
However, both parties eventually overcame these barriers and signed an amended agreement that would now give 74% stake in Pakistan.
In the past, 100% pipelines had to be built by Russia under the ‘built, working and relocated’ type. The project will cost $ 2.25 billion. Once completed, the pipeline will help alleviate the gas shortage in Punjab. Pakistan’s imported LNG will now resume operations through this pipeline.
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Officials familiar with the project said the project is not only important financially but also in Pakistan. They say Pakistan wants to strengthen relations with Russia as one way to change its foreign policy.
In April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Islamabad almost nine years later. During the trip, he sent a message to Pakistani leaders on behalf of President Putin that Moscow was keen to help all in Islamabad.
Both groups are working on a visit by the Russian President to Pakistan. Prime Minister Imran Khan has already summoned President Putin.
However, Putin’s reporters want to visit him when he has something big to sell. With the signing of the Pakistan Steam Gas Pipeline, the hope that Putin will visit Pakistan has grown significantly.
Pakistan is keen for President Putin to launch a gas pipeline project, which could start later this year or early next year.
President Putin’s rightful visit will mark the end of years of efforts by both parties to open a new chapter in their alliances that have been disrupted by the Cold War conflict.
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The two countries are not only looking at what they can do to strengthen their economic ties but Russia is also keen to sell arms to Pakistan, which they have avoided in the past for opposing India.
The two countries have been engaged in fitness since 2016, which is another sign of strengthening ties between Moscow and Islamabad.
In addition, the two countries share similar views on major regional issues with other countries including Afghanistan.