The premier in 25 years, may have broken

The visit of former Prime Minister, Nawaz
Sharif, to Moscow in April 1999, was termed by the Russian President as ‘a new
chapter in relations between the two countries oriented into the 21st Century’.
Prime Minister Sharif’s visit, the first by a Pakistani premier in 25 years,
may have broken the ice in bilateral relations, but the two sides failed to
sign any further significant treaty, after the political treaty initialed in
1994. The only agreement reached was the creation of an inter-governmental
commission for trade and economics. Russia and Pakistan signed a bilateral
document on trade and economic cooperation to replace the 1956 agreement.
Pakistan failed to elicit any further favorable response from their Russian
counterparts regarding the increased sale of military hardware to Pakistan. The
Kremlin leaders could no longer ignore the basic geo-political fact that India
remained by far the more important partner for it in South Asia in comparison
with Pakistan, which had been a major partner of the Soviet Union during the
days of the Cold War. The former Soviet Union had accounted for 60-70 % of the
defence purchases made by India. Moscow itself was keen to retain India as the
biggest purchaser of its defence equipment. India’s counter diplomatic moves
had succeeded in limiting the defence deals with Pakistan. However, both Russia
and Pakistan, during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit held similar views on
many international issues, in particular, their ‘support to the nonproliferation
regime and the settlement of conflicts by political means’. Prime Minister
Nawaz Sharif asked for Russia’s assistance for the resolution of out-standing
problems of South Asia, such as the Kashmir dispute, saying that his government
was ready to go on working in that direction, and expressed the desire that
Russia should also promote the normalization of relations between the two major
countries of the region. Regarding Russia’s role in India-Pakistan relations,
the Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, stated that Russia had fulfilled and
continued to fulfil an important mission, aimed at the normalization of
relations between India and Pakistan. Both sides spoke out in favor of
asserting the principles of stability and security in the world, and expressed
their commitment to the creation of a multi-polar world, based on the respect
for the UN Charter and international law.