New Delhi: The images of Russian troops landing in Pakistan and the enthusiasm with which they shook their Pakistani counterparts’ hands disappointed many Indians earlier today. A certain news channel had repeatedly told the audience in the country that Russia had cancelled the Russia-Pakistan military drill in the wake of the Uri terrorist attack. But apparently this was an over enthusiasm by the leading Indian television channel.
Russia-Pakistan military drill is a major development as the two historic rivals are coming together. Even as Russian troops arrived in Pakistan for the first-ever joint military exercise by the Cold War rivals, Moscow has said it sees no reason for India to be concerned about the drill. “We were informed by the Russian Defense Ministry that these exercises will not be carried out in [disputed] areas, and a place was chosen that has nothing to do with this. Hence there is no reason for India to worry about it,” Sputnik reported quoting Zamir Kabulov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Director of the Second Asian Department’s comments to RIA Novosti on Friday.
However, Pakistan media said that the tactical drills will be held from September 24 to October 7 in the Army High Altitude School in northern Pakistan’s Rattu — which is in Astore district of Gilgit-Baltistan that is claimed by India — and at a special forces training center in Cherat, in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. The Russian statement came soon after its military personnel taking part in the drill arrived in Pakistan, belying earlier media reports that Moscow had cancelled the exercise in the wake of the terror attack that killed 18 soldiers at an army camp in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir, on September 18. About 200 servicemen from both sides will be participating in the exercise, called Druzhba-2016 (Friendship-2016).
A press statement by Pakistani embassy in Moscow said, “The objectives of the joint exercise include developing cooperation between ground forces of the two countries, improving tactical abilities of the participating military personnel and developing a foundation for future interactions”. It said the exercises were a “manifestation of the desire” of Islamabad and Moscow “to enhance bilateral cooperation in all fields of mutual interest including defence”. Pakistan is looking forward to reduce its dependence on American armament as its effort to acquire more F16 aircraft went in vain.