Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visited Russia in early October in a renewed attempt to improve relations with Moscow. His visit came after the cancellation of the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Pakistan.
This would have been the first-ever visit of a Russian President to Pakistan and, as such, was loaded with significance. Putin was also to participate in a quadrilateral meeting on Afghanistan with leaders of Tajikistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
As NATO forces prepare to leave Afghanistan, new alignments of regional powers are emerging. Pakistan-Russia ties are also taking a new turn, and this holds great significance for India and the South Asian region.
Pakistan's efforts to improve its relationship with Russia since the deterioration in relations between Pakistan and the United States have been evident for some time. Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari visited Russia in May, and the Russian president's special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, visited Pakistan in June. Islamabad finds itself with few friends across the globe.
Even China has been circumspect in what it says it can offer its "all weather friend." Pakistan hopes Russia will start selling it more substantial defense equipment as well.
Both countries are also trying to increase their presence in Central Asia. Russia wants stability in its Central Asian periphery and Pakistan remains critical in managing the region. Moscow's outreach to Islamabad is an attempt to get a handle on this regional dynamic.