Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan begin his two-day maiden visit to Russia from Wednesday, the first such trip by a Pakistani prime minister in 23 years.

Imran Khan will also meet Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit. This is the first time a Pakistani prime minister will be visiting Russia since 1999. This comes after reports emerged last month that Moscow and Islamabad are in talks to finalise a plan for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit this year.

The Pakistani newspaper had said Putin’s visit was under discussion for the last two years but could not materialise because of several reasons, including the Covid-19 pandemic. Moscow also wants that there must be “big-ticket projects” or other initiatives that the Russian president would announce when he finally undertakes the trip to Pakistan.

Ahead of Imran Khan’s visit to Russia, a Pakistani geopolitical analyst had pointed out that the visit did not come at a suitable time. Analyst and Balochistan politician Jan Achakzai said the most prominent aspect of this visit is that Russia did not invite, rather an invitation was sought. “And more so in an environment where Putin has already called PM Modi to express gratitude for India’s support to Russia in the UN Security Council — a temporary position India has because the diplomatic consensus in Islamabad had voted for Delhi to be so,” Achakzai wrote in the Pakistani newspaper The News International.

Achakzai noted that Russia didn’t seek Pakistan’s support, nor did the US stop Pakistan from going to Moscow.

“Is it Pakistan’s irrelevance or a clear reading of the US that we will come back from Russia empty-handed and will beg for financial concessions from Washington in forums like IMF, FATF, etc, from a position of further weakness?” he had asked. According to Achakzai, Russia is not going to give Pakistan anything because Moscow losing India for the sake of Islamabad’s support is not an option. “Pakistan’s support comes at the cost of frequent requests for aid and loans.”