Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi leaves for Moscow from Islamabad. Image Credit: Foreign Office

Islamabad: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is on an official visit to Moscow to attend Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers (SCO-CFM) meeting being held on 9-10 September. Qureshi is visiting Moscow on the invitation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who would chair the meeting.

Pakistan foreign minister would hold a separate meeting with his Russian counterpart to discuss the prospects of “long-term multi-dimensional” Pakistan-Russia partnership.


Pakistan-Russia gas pipeline project

In a video message released before his departure, FM Qureshi expressed hope of early launch of a gas pipeline project stretching 1,100 km from Lahore to the port city of Karachi. The $2 billion project North-South gas pipeline, signed in 2015, is facing delays due to US sanctions against Russian state conglomerate Rostec and dispute over transport fees. “North South gas pipeline is a project that can greatly benefit Pakistan” Qureshi said, adding that he is hopeful about “a possibility of progress.”

Meeting with Central Asian FMs

Qureshi would also hold discussions with the foreign ministers of
Central Asian Republics (CARs) to discuss the expansion of the “volume of trade” and promote the economic prosperity of the region through Pakistan’s Gwadar port that can serve as gateway port for the landlocked Central Asian countries offering them access to trade and maritime routes.

He also said the Moscow summit would bring together countries with a “deep interest” in peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Military cooperation discussed

Last week, Pakistan’s Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Nadeem Raza, also paid a visit to Moscow to attend the SCO Defence and Security Cooperation Conference. Gen Raza discussed “military cooperation” and “regional security dynamics” with the chief of the Russian military’s General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov.

The SCO is a security and economic bloc comprising Pakistan, China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Since becoming a member of SCO in 2017, “Pakistan has been actively contributing in working towards achieving SCO’s multi-sectoral agenda through participation in various SCO mechanisms” the Foreign Office said.