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|Pakistan's COAS General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani|
Meanwhile, senior army officials were present on Wednesday at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport to see off General Kayani, who left for Moscow on a four-day official visit. The army chief’s Russia visit has become more significant after Russian President Vladimir Putin recently cancelled his Pakistan visit. Putin was scheduled to visit Islamabad in the first week of October but his visit was cancelled owing to ‘unspecified reasons’. Kayani’s visit also coincides with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov’s two-day visit to Islamabad (Oct 3-4) on the invitation of Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. Lavrov is scheduled to call on President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, besides holding bilateral consultations.
General Kayani during his four-day visit is expected to meet Russia’s top military and civil leaders to discuss ways to boost military-to-military cooperation between the two countries, ISPR Director General Maj-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa said. Gen Kayani is also expected to visit Russia’s vital defence installations and meet his Russian counterpart. Political pundits dubbing the visit a breakthrough in cooperation between both the countries, claim it can become beginning of a new era of Pak-Russian relations. Pakistan has been desperately trying to strengthen ties with Russia in a bid to lessen its reliance on the United States of Zionism.
A senior defence official has described the army chief’s visit as a major breakthrough in Pak-Russia defence ties. A diplomat at the Foreign Office, meanwhile, said that engagement with Russia was meant to “safeguard national interests as well as deepen consultations”. Gen Kayani’s visit was in the planning for months, but has received additional focus because of the cancellation of Putin’s visit to Pakistan, which would have been a landmark trip because he would have been the first Russian president to visit Pakistan. Meanwhile, General Kayani was given a warm welcome as he landed in Moscow on a historical visit to Russia. He was received by Deputy Commander in-Chief of Russian Armed Forces at the airport. A contingent of Russian Army gave guard of honour at the airport. Kayani would call on President Putin during his visit.
Pakistan Cyber Force