Russia wants negotiated settlement of Kashmir
6 June 2001
The News International
ISLAMABAD: Russian Ambassador to Pakistan Eduard Sevehenko said that his country was always interested in seeing peace and stability in South Asia and having good relations with the countries in the region."We always felt bad about the tense relations between Pakistan and India. We strongly believe that the Kashmir issue, the main hurdle, could be resolved only through negotiations by the two countries. No body from the outside can do much unless Pakistan and Indian ask them to intervene. Like any other country, Russia would certainly play its role if it is approached," Sevehenko said while talking to the journalists at a press briefing held at the Russian Embassy here on Wednesday.He said Russia is happy that Vajpayee has finally invited Chief Executive Pervez Musharraf to visit New Delhi. "Once Pakistan and India will resolve their disputes the two countries can become very good trade partners and a new phase of development and progress can began," the Russian envoy said.He said some huge projects like the Iran-India gas pipeline projects could not be executed only because India is apprehensive about it as it will pass through Pakistan, as such a vast part of the pipeline would be under Pakistan's control. "In this one project alone a large number of international companies, including Russian, are interested. But this project is not making any headway only because of the prevailing atmosphere of distrust between the two countries," Sevehenko said.To a question, he said Russia's aim is not to cut down its trade or cool its relations with India to bring those down to the level of Pakistan but to lift the ties with Pakistan to the level of those with India.He was optimistic that there exists a lot of potential of improving bilateral political, economic and trade relations between Russia and Pakistan and the prevailing situation can improve a great deal with some serious efforts."Russia has items like machinery equipment, products of metallurgy, fertiliser and newsprint to offer which Pakistan need. Similarly, the Pakistan Steel Mills, built by Russia back in the "70s is not being used in a proper way. Now, the present management is giving it a serious thought to improve the conditions there and again Russia is eager to extend all the help in the endeavour," Sevehenko said.The Russian envoy said his country had already participated in the tenders floated by the Pak Steel and had won some contracts. "Our experts, some 120-140, have already arrived in Karachi and are busy on their projects," Sevehenko said.However, he said while Russia is eager to extend its cooperation the political changes in Pakistan have created hurdles in way of implementing some agreements signed back in 1989."Recently an agreement was signed for the production of small cars with Sindh Engineering Co of Pakistan. But, later it was cancelled. Such things discourage our investors. Now they are asking me how it happened that a signed agreement has been cancelled all of sudden without any reason and I have nothing to respond. There could be some pressure from so many quarters but we are not told anything and we are not sure as to what had happened," Sevehenko said.He also said that Russia could help strengthen the power sector of Pakistan. "In Bangladesh, the 40 per cent of their power projects have been constructed by Russian firms. Here, the power sector can also benefit from our expertise. Similarly, we can help build dams and other infrastructure," he added.