When Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Islamabad last week after a gap of nine years, he had delivered an “important” message to the Pakistani leadership. The message was from President Vladimir Putin.
“I came with a message from my president that tell Pakistan we are open for any cooperation, whatever Pakistan needs Russia is ready for it,” Lavrov was quoted by a senior Pakistani official, who attended the closed door meeting between the Russian foreign minister and Pakistani authorities, as saying.
“In other words, the Russian president offered us a blank cheque,” said the official, who requested not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The official revealed that Putin had conveyed to Pakistan through his top diplomat that Moscow would help Islamabad in any manner. “If you’re interested in gas pipelines, corridors, defence or any other cooperation, Russia stands ready for it,” the official quoted FM Lavrov as saying when asked what he meant by “blank cheque”.
Pakistan and Russia are already working on the North-South gas pipeline project. The two sides had entered into the agreement in 2015 to lay a pipeline from Karachi to Lahore. The project is estimated to cost $2 billion.