- Special Pages
ISLAMABAD: With Russian President Vladimir Putin’s cancelled visit still a hot issue at home, Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani will be visiting Moscow next week on a four-day tour. “Dates for General Kayani’s visit to Russia have been finalised and he would be in Moscow from October 3-6,” a close aide to the army chief said.
Gen Kayani’s visit was in the planning for months, but got additional focus because of cancellation of Putin’s visit to Pakistan, which would have been a landmark trip because he would have been the first Russian president to visit Pakistan.
The army chief was originally expected to carry forward the strengthening of military-to-military relations initiated by Russian Military Chief Colonel-General Alexander Postnikov’s visit to Pakistan in May last year.
But now Kayani would additionally have to address the temporary hiccup in the reset of ties and seek continuation of the process that led to vast improvement in the relationship after decades of mistrust. President Putin had decided against visiting Pakistan on the pretext that engagement lacked substance and was more rhetorical.
During his visit, General Kayani will have several high-level engagements with the Russian political leadership in addition to the dialogue with his counterpart on expanding relations between the two militaries.
Interestingly, General Kayani’s last visit to Moscow in 2009 led to the meeting between then Russian President Medvedev and President Zardari on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.