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That the news that Russia has plans to send natural gas to Pakistan is a highly positive development in view of latter’s fast-depleting gas reserves along with a consistent increase in demand owing to growing population in particular.

According to media reports, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak has told TASS news agency that in the long-term, Russia can send its natural gas to the markets of Afghanistan and Pakistan, either using the infrastructure of Central Asia, or in a swap from the territory of Iran.

What Pakistan can do at this point in time is to seek firm commitment from Russia that this South Asian country would not be falling out of favour with the Kremlin. This could be achieved through certain foreign policy initiatives without challenging or disturbing Russia’s overall economic and political interests in the region.

Pakistan will also be required to step up its efforts aimed at bringing about peace and stability in Afghanistan from where the Russian natural gas can ultimately land here. It is important to note that Russia holds 18 percent of total global proven gas reserves.

Pakistan must not, therefore, squander this opportunity away at any cost. China can help Pakistan ink some deals with Russia in the near future.

It is needless to say that China’s spending on energy imports from Russia has jumped to $ 35 billion, from $ 20 billion a year earlier. The increased economic cooperation between Russia and China can work in favour of Pakistan as well.

Nasir Shahzaman (Karachi)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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