Pakistan, Russia launch direct shipping service
Russian oil rig (file photo).

Karachi: Pakistan and Russia have launched for the first time a direct shipping service in a bid to increase trade, economic and energy ties between the two nations.

After an inauguration ceremony on Saturday in Karachi, a ship carrying 36,000 tons of goods left the Karachi port for St Petersburg. A tanker carrying Russian crude oil is expected to reach Karachi from St Petersburg later this week.

Minister of State for petroleum and energy, Musaddik Malik told the media that this is the first direct shipping line that has begun between Pakistan and Russia and it will lead to more bilateral trade and economic ties.

“We want to make it clear Pakistan is not in anyone’s camp. We try to do trade with the USA, we are told we are in the USA camp. We do business with China, we are told we have aligned with China. The truth is we are only doing what is in the interest of Pakistan,” Malik said.

“We are only trying to get cheap oil for our energy needs from Russia,” he said.

The container ship from Pakistan will reach St Petersburg in 18 days.

The Russian Consul General in Karachi Andrey Viktorovich said his country wants to increase trade ties with Pakistan.

Qazi Muhammad Khalil, a former ambassador to Moscow, said there was a lot of scope for Pakistan to export rice, fruits, vegetables, sports goods, and textiles to Russia and a direct shipping line between the two countries will help increase trade and business ties between the two countries.

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Pakistan’s ties with Russia have moved past the bitter Cold War hostilities in recent years.

Pakistan, which is currently grappling with high external debt and a weak local currency, is desperate to purchase cheap crude at discounted rates from Russia.

The cash-strapped country has been struggling hard to revive the USD 6.5 billion derailed IMF bailout package that the Washington-based global lender approved in 2019.

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