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A delegation led by State Minister for Petroleum Musadik Malik, who wasd accompanied by the officials of Petroleum Ministry and the Pakistan Embassy, held a meeting in Moscow early this week to work out an agreement with Russia on the procurement of Russian oil.

The expectation of the delegation was high and had taken it very much for granted that Pakistan would succeed in inking an agreement on favourable terms similar to those Russia had agreed to for India, which meant seeking a 30 to 40 percent discount on Russian crude oil.

Reportedly, the response of the Russians was against expectations of the delegation; it was rather cold, to say the least. Russia declined to offer its oil to Pakistan, stating that presently all its volumes are sold out and committed. Russia, however, promised to consider Pakistan’s demand later on through diplomatic channels. This promise is more of diplomatic courtesy than anything tangible.

Russia, during the talks is reported to have also pinned down Pakistan on its commitment to the flagship project of Russia-Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline (PSGP) to be laid between Karachi and Lahore. The Pakistani side during the talks mentioned its desire to change the model of PSGP project.

The Russian side said that the model of the project under G2G arrangement has already been finalised and only some clauses of the shareholding agreement were yet to be given a final shape. Russia is irked by Pakistan’s constant delays on the project and is aware that the issue is diplomatic expediency from Pakistan’s end rather than anything technical or contractual.

It’s a seller’s market in view of upcoming onset of winter in Europe and supply and price volatility in the global energy market. Russia is, therefore, cashing in on this opportunity.

At the very start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and unprecedented sanctions on Russia by the West, Moscow desperately needed buyers for its oil and empathy/neutrality from nations on the diplomatic front. India immediately grabbed this opportunity with both hands, overriding all criticism from the West.

In the process India signed a long-term oil procurement agreement at some significant concession and once again got on the right side of Russia, much at the expense of Pakistan’s loss on both counts.

Pakistan has missed out on the timing of its outreach to Russia for the procurement of oil and also on exposition of diplomatic neutrality towards Russia when it needed it the most. More than losing out on oil procurement from Russia, it has missed a rare opportunity to balance its relationships with the US and Russia on lines that India is managing so successfully since long.

It is no secret that the incumbent government, so as not to displease USA, avoided procurement of oil from Russia when it was time to do so and when Russia was inclined towards Pakistan. The incumbent government strengthened its spine only when President Biden recently gave a green signal of no objection to nations aspiring to procure Russian oil.

Russian oil at discounted rates would have done much good to the nation’s sinking economy and could have provided the much-needed relief to its people, businesses and industries. This is one example to demonstrate how a nation’s subservience to a superpower shatters the dream of its people to secure a better life for themselves and their offspring.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

Farhat Ali

The writer is a former President, Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Comments

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Majid Freeman, UK Dec 03, 2022 07:11am
Pakistan is not India and has to think independently and not follow India. It would have been wise for Pakistan government to negotiate oil deals with Venezuela or Iran rather than Russia. Each nation does deals based on its interests rather than some other nation is doing. Pakistan should stop seeing at other countries and do things what's best for it.
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Dr. Malaria amadick Dec 03, 2022 05:39pm
Why would Russia sell.oil.to a country that provides weapons to Ukraine
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IMTIAZ CASSUM AGBOATWALA Dec 04, 2022 03:22pm
No homework is done by Pakistan officials before embarking on a free trip.
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