Russian Federationâ€™s Ambassador to Pakistan
Jahangir’s World Times (JWT): A joint statement at the conclusion of Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saudâ€™s visit to Pakistan raised many eyebrows about country’s Syria policy. How do you see this policy? Is it consistent with Geneva-I accord?
Alexey Yurievich Dedov (AYD): Pakistan’s policy on Syria has always been independent and a principled one. It is perfectly in accordance with the Geneva-I accord. We haven’t seen anything objectionable or contradictory in Pakistan’s statement on Syria and Geneva-I communiquÃ©. Actually, we analysed both the documents and didn’t find any contradictions between these. I think the statement issued by PM’s Adviser on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, amply clarifies Pakistani government’s position in this regard.
JWT: Do you think that Pakistan’s position on Syria is like that of an independent, sovereign country?
AYD: Yes, Pakistan’s policy has, undoubtedly, been consistent with the international norms of democracy and state sovereignty. Pakistan is independent and deserves every right to formulate its foreign policy in the best interest of the country.
JWT: Afghanistan has been consistently in turmoil. How do you see this country’s future especially when the withdrawal of NATO and ISAF forces is in the offing?
AYD: Afghanistan is the most burning issue of today’s world and it may have serious repercussions on the international political arena in the years to come. First of all, we should congratulate Afghans for holding a peaceful election for the next president. Fortunately, no big untoward incident was witnessed during the whole process. This election was, in fact, a great success as the turnover crossed 58 per cent. Hopefully, we will see the new government in coming days. And I hope the new government would strengthen the Afghan society and will eradicate terrorism. I also hope that the Afghanistanâ€™s National Security Force will cope with all the threats to the best their abilities.
JWT: Russian Federation being next to Pakistanâ€™s neighbour Afghanistan is geographically not too far. What are the prospects of Pak-Russia joint efforts for bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan?
AYD: Pakistan and Russian Federation jointly stand for a strong and peaceful Afghanistan that is free from terrorism and drugs menace. We will work for bringing peace and stability in the ragtag Afghanistan. We have a quadrilateral arrangement with Pakistan, which also includes Afghanistan and Tajikistan, to make this region a better and peaceful place to live in.
JWT: As you said Pakistan and Russia stand united for Afghanistan, so how both countries are co-operating on different international fora?
AYD: There are some fora available for making collective, concerted efforts. However, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) can be of utmost importance to serve the purpose. Both Pakistan and Afghanistan have the observer status in the SCO. We are working with Pakistan in the framework of Istanbul Process and other fora.
JWT: The annexation of Crimea to Russia has attracted strong reaction from the US and the West alike. They have also imposed tougher sanctions on your country. How would you comment on this state of affairs?
AYD: Some people take this absolutely wrong when they say that itâ€™s the annexation of Crimea. It is, in fact, against the ground realities. Actually, Crimea has become a part of Russia as per the aspirations of the Crimean people. They gave their verdict through a universally recognized mechanism that is the referendum wherein more than 83 per cent Crimeans voted and among them nearly 97 per cent opted to join Russia. Moreover, very few people have opposed this popular will. For instance, among 18000 Ukrainian troops, only 2000 decided to leave Crimea.
JWT: We have seen that the US moved its warships in Black Sea. Is the world heading towards another Cold War as the tensions are consistently rising?
AYD: Hopefully not. We do not have any aggressive designs against any country. Notwithstanding this fact, we, the Russians, believe that any activity in a certain area won’t be instrumental to easing tensions.
JWT: How do you see the cooperation between Pakistan and Russian Federation in different fields?
AYD: We have very good relations with Pakistan. There are various working groups for ensuring continuation of our bilateral cooperation. Russia is very keen to support energy projects like Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline. Similarly, we have also shown our readiness for upgrading Pakistan Steel Mills in Karachi. For the information of your readers, I would like to tell that Pakistan Steel Mills was built in 1970s with the cooperation of our country, the then Soviet Union.
JWT: How do you see the prospects of peace in South Asia? What are your views on the efforts of normalising Pakistan-India relations?
AYD: It is heartening to see that there have been significant developments especially after the installation of new government in India with Narendra Modi at the helm. We feel that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to India on Modi’s inauguration was a very positive step for the peace in the South Asian region.