In a first, Pakistan, Russia to hold joint war games

Published: September 12, 2016
Islamabad also mulls purchase of advanced jets from Moscow. PHOTO: FILE

Islamabad also mulls purchase of advanced jets from Moscow. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: South Asia appears to be on the cusp of a strategic realignment, though nobody is ready to talk about it candidly. Pakistan and Russia are set to hold their first-ever joint military exercises later this year, officials and diplomatic sources said on Sunday. Not only that, Islamabad is also considering purchase of advanced Russian warplanes.

The joint military drill is seen as another step in growing military-to-military cooperation, indicating a steady growth in bilateral relationship between the two countries, whose ties had been marred by Cold War rivalry for decades.

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A senior Pakistani official said that around 200 military personnel from the two sides would take part in the joint military exercises scheduled for later this year.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Moscow Qazi Khalilullah told The Express Tribune that this is the first time that military personnel from the two countries would be taking part in joint military drills, otherwise called ‘Friendship-2016’. He, however, did not divulge further details about the nature of the exercises or dates.

The development, Khalilullah said, reflected increased cooperation between the two countries. “This obviously indicates a desire on both sides to broaden defence and military-technical cooperation,” he separately told a Russian news agency last week.

Islamabad decided to broaden its foreign policy options after its relations with the United States deteriorated first due to a secret raid at Abbottabad to kill al Qaeda kingpin Osama bin Laden in May 2011 and then killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in Nato airstrikes at Salala check post along the Afghan border.

The joint session of parliament after debating the negative fallout of the US and Nato actions approved the new foreign policy guidelines that envisaged reaching out to Russia.

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Based on the recommendations of the recent envoys’ conference, Pakistan’s foreign ministry also called for increased engagements with Russia.

Those recommendations also stemmed from recent developments where US lawmakers blocked funds for eight Lockheed Martin Corporation’s F-16 fighter jets. The US was supposed to partly fund the deal, paying $430 million, but US lawmakers blocked it for Pakistan’s apparent lack of action against militants.

Pakistan decided to look at alternative sources to purchase the aircraft including from Jordan, with Turkey offering to modernise Pakistan’s existing fleet of fighters.

Over the last 15 months, the chiefs of Pakistan’s Army, Navy and Air Force travelled to Russia in a development signalling the growing defence ties between the two countries. The flurry of high-level exchanges resulted in the signing of a deal between Pakistan and Russia for the purchase of four MI-35 attack helicopters.

The formal agreement, which was signed in Moscow in August 2015, was considered a major policy shift on part of Russia in the wake of growing strategic partnership between the US and India.

Moscow for long ignored Islamabad in a bid to please its long-term ally New Delhi. But as a result of India’s growing tilt towards the US, Russia has now begun to expand its cooperation with Pakistan.

For its part, Islamabad is eager to improve its ties with Moscow to diversify its options in the event of any stalemate in ties with Washington.

After securing a deal of MI-35 helicopters, Pakistan is also exploring options to buy Su-35 fighter jets from Russia. For this purpose, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman visited Moscow in July.

The Pakistani ambassador said the PAF chief held ‘fruitful’ discussions with Russian authorities but would not provide further details of new military purchases, including the multirole, air superiority fighter Sukhoi Su-35.

Other defence officials were quoted by Russian news agency as saying that Pakistan was still in initial stages of negotiation for these weapons platforms and that the military was also looking at anti-tank weapons and air defense systems.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 12th, 2016.


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Reader Comments (36)

  • Hakim Afghani
    Sep 12, 2016 - 9:18AM

    Russian Federation and Pakistan? Are you kidding me? Russian Federation will never forget USSR war and it’s naive to even think that Russian Federation will cooperate with Pakistan.Recommend

  • gahazal
    Sep 12, 2016 - 9:56AM

    only and only america can afford high maintenance friend like Pakistan. Pakistan is not able to buy F16 at market cost how will it buy su-35. with Russian economy in doldrums , it will be real surprise to see Russia giving freebies to potential political threat to its back yard( central Asia). just a loud thinking.Recommend

    Sep 12, 2016 - 10:09AM

    Russian economy is downward spiral so they are looking for new defence export destination.However Russia would never offend India by selling lethal weapons like SU 30,Su 35 because than it will loose stake in $300 billion defence projects in the next decade.And not to mention russians ll always require hard money which i doubt the PUNJAB Army has. Recommend

  • rashid
    Sep 12, 2016 - 10:11AM

    “Marred by cold war rivarly” if they hadn’t instigated the so called baluch movement in 1973 to topple Pakistan with the help of Iraq and India, we wouldn’t have joined against them in 1979 soviet-afghan war. Tit for tat! Astonishing that they or some analysts still describe the cold war facts without portraying an equal image.Recommend

    Sep 12, 2016 - 10:24AM

    Russians should be aware as they dont want to be training a army which despite taking $32.3 billion in last 14 years and host of offensive weaponry from united states,treated Osama as military guest 850 yards away from PMA kakul and is responsible for death of 1200 US serviceman.Even to this day what Taliban are doing goes against the core national interest of russian frderation. Anyhow chinese will provide thwm enough weaponry through reverse engineering of russian weapons to keep India in permanent headache mood but china should also remember Xinjiang,Tibet and we Indians can also supply nukes to Vietnam as the chinese did to the pak army. Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Sep 12, 2016 - 10:25AM

    If this “joint war games” amounts to anything it will just be some officers playing video war games in some bunker and knocking back a few vodkas. Another thing is Pakistan has been “mulling over” this advanced jet purchase for the last 3 years; nothing more than a play on the Americans…Recommend

  • Sid
    Sep 12, 2016 - 10:33AM

    Purchasing advanced Russian war machines. haha. Russia does not provide loans as USA does. So good luck, I would love to see that happen.Recommend

  • Pukhtoon
    Sep 12, 2016 - 10:56AM

    Finally India is going to pay for its short-sighted double-crossing policy towards both US and Russia. Its attempt to obtain cheap benefits by posing to be all-weather friends to each one is doomed- because Russia-China alliance is determined to break US hegemony and dominance. Russia already with China in South China Sea. Navies of the three countries have made major deployments in the region. Soon US will ask the hapless Indians the famous “with is our against us?” question. And that would be the end of that. Even leading Indian defense analysis think no matter how many military pacts India signs, both US and Russia will not settle for less than complete clarity-for its games soon they’ll make an example out of the insincere “friend” in a spectacular way. Recommend

  • Pukhtoon
    Sep 12, 2016 - 11:00AM

    @Hakim Afghani
    Come on dude. You don’t have to use the “bolds” in your tireless attempt to hide your Indian identity. Even your countrymen know who you are. You just make it so obvious. “Nice try”. Not. Recommend

  • Tyggar
    Sep 12, 2016 - 11:27AM

    Strategic realignment because of joint exercises?? India and China hold joint military exercises every year so that’s another realignment for you!Recommend

  • Zahir Shah
    Sep 12, 2016 - 11:49AM

    @Hakim Afghani:
    Afghani Brother, Your clock probably starts from 1980. Just take it back to 1917 when Bulschivik Revolution took place in Russia. It was a planned move by the Global Elite. Russia, a Christian State converted to a Godless society of USSR. Now after 1990, in 2010 Russia officially adopted Orthodox Christianity as its religion. Russian authorities today consider USSR as an imposed infidel Government.
    So now Russia is different than USSR. It is this reason Pakistan and Russia are getting closer. You probably live in dreams. Instead of worrying about Pakistan you should worry about the fear of Afghan Taliban after US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

  • Zahir Shah
    Sep 12, 2016 - 11:50AM

    So you think Russia is fool to do this? And you have better brains than the Russian authorities? Recommend

  • Zahir Shah
    Sep 12, 2016 - 11:56AM

    I am proud of you my bro,
    Love from South Waziristan.Recommend

  • Tanya Khan
    Sep 12, 2016 - 12:11PM

    Next half century is going to be very interesting….Recommend

  • gahazal
    Sep 12, 2016 - 12:27PM

    bhaijan:- foreign relation are not zero sum games, successful countries are those who are friend and competitor with everyone. Friends when interests converge and competitors when they clash, role keep changing with time and tides . as once Mao said there are no permanent friend or enemy in world politics. look at successful countries they are the one following this policy. and then have look at failing or failed states they are the one who are on self destruction mode in pursuit of permanent friend and enemy. few thing can only be understood cant be explainedRecommend

  • MAyOr
    Sep 12, 2016 - 12:37PM

    @gahazal: May be it come to you as a surprise but giving away the Jets in nominal cost is in the favor of Russia. Once Russian tech will make its way to Pakistan the cost of maintenance and expertise will also be required from Russia and Pakistan will be sending more money to Russia to get the spares even. It is also benefiical for Pakistan since our jointly developed aircraft is a platform of mixed chinese and russian tech.Recommend

  • Np
    Sep 12, 2016 - 1:14PM

    @Pukhtoon: Russia may sell lower end fighter aircraft at market price to Pakistan. But if you think it will support Pakistan against India, you are delusional.

    Earlier this year, Putin has refused to visit Pakistan citing lack of substance in the relationship. In 2012 he had cancelled his visit. On the other hand, he has visited India in December 2014 and will visit again next month for the BRICS summit.Recommend

  • whatever
    Sep 12, 2016 - 1:21PM

    poor Pakistan debt is rising leap and bound and others are inviting them for road shows. Once Pakistanis were accusing USSR for 71 debacle now they are trying to lick their feet. but there will be no freebies from Russia and China even you bend backward.Recommend

  • Manzoor Khan
    Sep 12, 2016 - 2:01PM

    Russia and US is strongly following South asia !!Look if US is giving and can give weapons to indian then its obvious for russia to give its weapons to pakistan there is no rule for that and there is no friendship in international politics !!All are lookin for priorties and intrests US see his intrest in India and Russia look at pakistan !!!any how this is a great news atleast we are fed up from US daily dramas and do more policy!!Recommend

    Sep 12, 2016 - 2:40PM

    AS far as we in India know, USA has not given us any high tech know-how what Russian are ready or have already provided( not even to china), it is trust between two that has given confidence to lend one nuclear sub marine to India, and next is in pipe line . if Russia is ready to batter eco-military deals with India in favour of strategic location( center of the world), i have no idea, russians know better. India every conducts war games with Russia, USA, japan, and even with china in addition with dozen of other countries. my point is , do you realize what situation ( external imdad) you are in that mere news of war game is destiny achieved .Recommend

  • Reddy
    Sep 12, 2016 - 4:33PM

    pakistanis are really delusional to the boot,any thing you get from russia is with the tacit approval from india,with the written consent saying will not be used against india,ask your military to make those documents public on mi-35s ,let me assure you that forget about plane,russia wudn’t even let you see sukhoi wing,only interest russia has in pakistan is chachan terrorists in your country…china has war games with india every year infact on our border with pakistan… Recommend

  • Hasnain
    Sep 12, 2016 - 5:24PM

    Please don’t buy anything. We don’t pay taxes for you to buy weapons. Try solving the energy crisis or improve education and health funds first with that money.Recommend

  • Raghavan
    Sep 12, 2016 - 5:57PM

    There is Indo-Chinese war games going almost every 2 years? So What is this going to help Pakistan in strategic partnership? Its money, which pulls any country towards other. Did pakistan have enough money to 10 Su-35 which is more than $1 billion?Recommend

  • Pukhtoon
    Sep 12, 2016 - 6:42PM

    @Zahir Shah
    Thanks wrora. We have had enough of the Indian propaganda and conspiracies. Da Allah pa amaan. Pakistan and KPK zinda bad. Recommend

  • Mittha Khan
    Sep 12, 2016 - 6:52PM

    Really,, The Russian Bear needs approval from India cause you buy their weapons,,,, funny you don’t understand Russians and their orthodox christian history viz a viz Zionist sponsored Bolshevism as a start despite being their so called friends… Money is not the only thing in play here buddy geo politics, monetary system control and religious rivalries between Abrahamic faiths all play a role and sometimes they are important than a few billions,,,well keep on being money minded till you are ruled by a new foreign powerRecommend

  • Srinivasulu Mekala
    Sep 12, 2016 - 6:55PM

    West Punjabis never thought there is anything called Pakistan outside West Punjab. As long as West Punjab remains as Pakistan, they give a damn if rest of the peripheral areas cecede or merge with neighbouring countries. This will incentivise the peripheral areas to renegade and bold to chalk out their future and preservation of inherited identity.Recommend

  • Black Hawk
    Sep 12, 2016 - 6:58PM

    Before Pakistanis start jumping up & down with joy, they need to calm down as its just a military excercise. Yes Russia is looking for new buyers for its military hardware since its economy is shaky but firstly it does give loans like the US & secondly India is still a big customer of India than Pakistan can ever be. Will Russia be willing to ally with a small fry like Pakistan at the expense of a big ally which is already buying equipment worth billions? Also, Pakistan could not pay $300 for a frew F-16s, so how will it pay the Russians? Recommend

  • Ali
    Sep 12, 2016 - 7:22PM

    Pakistan should negotiate for joint manufacture of Su-35 and Pakfa stealth fighter at Kamra.Recommend

  • Yeast
    Sep 12, 2016 - 10:36PM

    @ya Noor Ya Rasool Ya Nabi you joker, are you real worst troll?Recommend

  • Taxzu
    Sep 13, 2016 - 9:23AM

    Let the weapons come. We Pakistanis are king of reverse engineering and will make them even better. Recommend

  • Shaggi3
    Sep 13, 2016 - 11:26AM

    @Hakim Afghani:
    if japan can forget the Hiroshima & Nagasaki Russia can forget conflicts with PakistanRecommend

  • Raheel
    Sep 15, 2016 - 2:59AM

    There is no permanent friend or foe in politics.yesterday’s enemy could become today’s friend and it seems this has just started to happen.Anyhow Pakistan should focus money more on there local research and development rather than buying it from other countries.I am sure if we spend more on our own weapons development ,we will have good results in the future.

    And I hope the day comes when Pakistan and India stop fighting and become good friends and neighbours.Recommend

  • Dr. Asad Sadick, Germany
    Sep 15, 2016 - 3:58PM

    Not a good idea. Russia being pro-Indian could expose our potential military strength to the Indians.Recommend

  • Karnal_Sher_Khan
    Sep 16, 2016 - 7:35PM


    You wrote: “only and only america can afford high maintenance friend like Pakistan.”

    You are right, Pakistan is high maintenance compared to Indian. Indians don’t even use toilets. How low maintenance they could be? Recommend

  • Karnal_Sher_Khan
    Sep 16, 2016 - 7:45PM


    You are either naive or jealous. The one who reaches out to you usually licks your feet, not the one is being reached out to. Learn the difference.

    Since India betrayed it’s lifelong partner Russia, like they always have betrayed all it’s friends, Russia is now reaching out to Pakistan for friendship. India also betrayed and abandoned it’s lifelong friends, Afghanistan, after invaded by Russia. Recommend

  • Rustom
    Sep 20, 2016 - 11:27PM

    @Hakim Afghani:
    Hey Indian how r u? why u r using afghan name.. I just checked your ip.. it is from IndiaRecommend

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