Russia shoots down Indian plea for Pak drills cancellation

Islamabad - India’s campaign to isolate Pakistan at the international level suffered the first setback as Russia rejected its diplomatic plea to cancel joint military exercise with Pakistan beginning from Saturday.

“Reports of cancellation of exercise are incorrect. The joint military exercise will be held as per scheduled, from 24 September,” Pakistan’s Ambassador to Russia Qazi Khalilullah told The Nation.

The clarification from Pakistan’s ambassador to Russia comes after Indian media propagated that Moscow had cancelled its joint military drill with Pakistan in response to a letter from Indian Ministry of External Affairs seeking cancelation of Russian military joint exercise with Pakistan.

Ambassador was taken by surprise over the baseless Indian propaganda saying Pakistan enjoys excellent friendly relations with Russian Federation.

“Both Pakistan and Russia have developed their bilateral cooperation in various fields including political, economic and defence fields,” Ambassador Qazi Khalilullah added.

Pakistan is in the process of procuring Russian helicopters, while Russian companies have secured a multi-billion dollars project to lay LNG gas pipeline from south to north.

Foreign Office Spokesman Nafees Zakaria also rejected the Indian claim regarding cancellation of exercise.

According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office in Islamabad, Zakaria said the Pak-Russia joint military exercise will be held as per schedule.

He said that India is spreading false propaganda regarding cancellation of the exercise by Russia.

Around 200 military personnel from Russia and Pakistan will participate in the exercise. Both sides have revealed little else about the drill, dubbed Friendship 2016, except that it will take place in mountainous areas.

The fact that the exercise takes place in mountainous terrain could be an indication that Russia is interested in learning from Pakistan’s military counterinsurgency (COIN) operations.

The military exercise is a clear signal that Moscow and Islamabad are interested in deepening military-to-military relations. This obviously indicates a desire on both sides to broaden defence and military-technical cooperation.

New Delhi has stepped up efforts to diplomatically isolate Pakistan in the aftermath of the attack on an Indian army camp in Uri in the Indian-occupied Kashmir which killed 18 soldiers.

Eighteen soldiers died in Sunday’s attack, which was the worst of its kind to hit the divided Himalayan region in more than a decade and has increased hostility between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Occasional violations of a 2003 ceasefire between the nuclear-armed rivals are not uncommon. The last was reported on September 6 this year and caused no casualties.

Tens of thousands of people have died in the fighting, most of them civilians.

Out of its sheer frustration, India blamed Pakistan for the Uri incident in its bid to malign Pakistan as terror sponsoring state, while Pakistan rejecting the allegation blamed India of using the incident to sidetrack its record of atrocities and human right violations in the occupied Kashmir.

Pakistan also believes that Indian intelligence agency RAW which has been openly trying to destabilise Pakistan by sponsoring terror incidents has been in the habit of creating false flags such as the one in Uri to malign Pakistan.

“Ever since Pakistan had arrested a senior RAW operative from Balochistan, Indian intelligence agency has been doing all this out of its sheer frustration,” sources said.

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