Pakistani and Russian troops take part in first joint military exercises being held in Pakistan
Pakistani and Russian troops are taking part in their first joint military exercises known as Friendship 2016 that kicked off on 24 September in Cherat.
Around 200 troops – 70 Russian and 130 Pakistani – are taking part in the Friendship 2016 war game. The Pak-Russia Army joint exercise began on September 24 and will conclude on October 10.
The exercise is taking place at the Army High Altitude School in northern Pakistan’s Rattu and at a special forces training center in Cherat in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
Russia-Pakistan military exercise will involve experience sharing and will aim to develop coordination in carrying out practice combat tasks in a mountainous environment, including operations against illegal armed groups, according to Sputnik.
The latest joint exercises may represent a shift towards closer Russo-Pakistan relations.
The exercise was first announced in January and is a signal that “Moscow and Islamabad are interested in deepening military-to-military relations,” Pakistan’s ambassador to Moscow Qazi Khalilullah told TASS. “This obviously indicates a desire on both sides to broaden defense and military-technical cooperation,” he said.
The Pakistan Army has said that the joint military exercise with Russia is progressing well. “It brings value on both sides,” the Director General Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa said in a tweet.
Pak-Russia Army joint Exercise progressing smoothly,brings value on both sides.Comd Peshawar Corps visits&interacts. To conclude on 10 Oct pic.twitter.com/XbvOX7aSuS
— Gen Asim Bajwa (@AsimBajwaISPR) September 27, 2016
Lieutenant General Hidayat-ur-Rehman, the Commander of Peshawar Corps visited the troops taking part in the exercise in Cherat and interacted with them.
The Friendship 2016 drill is taking place going ahead despite speculation that they may be canceled, which surfaced after tensions between Pakistan and India escalated in the wake of the September 18 attack on Indian troops stationed in Uri, a town in the disputed province of Kashmir.
Defense analysts have hailed the joint exercises saying that it sends a message to India loud and clear that Pakistan choose friendly ties with the world, let alone the neighbours.
Army Chief General Raheel Sharif is expected to attend the concluding ceremony.
Speaking of the far-reaching consequences of such cooperation, Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Defence Committee Mushahid Hussain Sayed on Sunday said: “This is a positive development and a definite breakthrough in the Pakistan-Russia relations that have moved beyond the Cold War adversarial ties to a blossoming bilateral bond, based on the absence of any conflict of interests, now developing into a military relationship as well.”
Pakistan and Russia have a defence cooperation agreement which was signed in November 2014, which provides for cooperation for promoting international security, intensification of counterterrorism efforts and arms control activities, strengthening collaboration in various military fields and sharing experiences.