During his visit to Russia, the Army chief will have several high-level engagements with the Russian political leadership in addition to dialogue with his counterpart on expanding relations between the two militaries.
Kayani’s visit follows the cancellation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s trip to Islamabad, scheduled for Oct 2-3, and 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.
Mr Lavrov is scheduled to call on President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, besides holding bilateral consultations.
Gen Kayani’s visit was in the planning for months, but has received additional focus because of the cancellation of Mr Putin’s visit to Pakistan, which would have been a landmark trip because he would have been the first Russian president to visit Pakistan.
A senior defence official has described the army chief’s visit as a major breakthrough in the 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”.