Russia says no joint military drill in Pak-occupied Kashmir

news
24 September 2016

Russia on Friday clarified that the reported joint military exercises with Pakistan will not be held in Gilgit-Baltistan, which is a part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and said the anti-terror drills would take place in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region.

"Contrary to some reports appearing in a section of the press, the Russia-Pakistan anti-terror exercise is not being held and will not be held in any point of so-called 'Azad Kashmir' or in any other sensitive or problematic areas like Gilgit and Baltistan," a statement from the Russian embassy in New Delhi said.

"The only venue of the exercise is Cherat," the statement added, referring to a place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Cherat is 34 miles (about 55km) southeast of Peshawar.

"All reports alleging the drills taking place at the High Altitude Military School in Rattu are erroneous and mischievous," the Russian embassy said.

Media reports from Islamabad had said the exercises would take place at the military school in Rattu, which is in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Pakistan on Friday said its military will be holding the first ever exercise with Russian forces this month, in another sign of shifting alliances in South Asia.

Pakistan, which spent a decade helping the United States funnel arms and fighters into neighboring Afghanistan to help insurgent groups fight Soviet soldiers following their 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, is holding hands with Russia which it helped US fight in proxy war.

Russian troops arrived in Islamabad on Friday for their first-ever joint exercises with Pakistani forces, starting tomorrow and named "Friendship 2016", which reflects the growing military ties between the two countries.

About 200 troops from the two countries will take part in the two-week military drills, dubbed a sign of the growing military ties between two countries from opposite sides of the erstwhile Cold War.

"A contingent of Russian ground forces arrived in Pakistan for first ever Pak-Russian joint exercise from September 24 to October 10," Indian army spokesman Lt Gen. Asim Bajwa tweeted, posting photographs of the Russian and Pakistani troops.

A statement from Russia's southern military command said the drills would involve over 70 of its servicemen, including the mountain mobile brigade personnel deployed in the Karachay-Cherkessia Republic (North Caucasus) and officers from headquarters.

The southern military command's mechanised infantry servicemen are fully equipped with their mountain gear, ammunition and standard weapons, Russia's Itar-Tass news agency reported, citing the statement.

"The joint military drills are aimed at bolstering and building up military cooperation between the two countries," the agency added.

Pakistan, which spent a decade helping the United States funnel arms and fighters into neighboring Afghanistan to help insurgent groups fight Soviet soldiers following their 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, is holding hands with Russia which it helped US fight in proxy war.

The reverse is taking now, as Pakistan's ties with Russia grow closer as its relations with the United States have cooled amidst allegations of Pakistan harboring Afghan Taliban fighters.

Pakistani media last year reported Islamabad had bought four Mi-35 attack helicopters from Russia in a first military deal of its kind between them.





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