Analysis: Pak-Russia drill signals strategic shift

Published: September 27, 2016
This wasn’t good news for India, as it reportedly tried its best to prevail upon Russia to call off the exercise. PHOTO: ISPR

This wasn’t good news for India, as it reportedly tried its best to prevail upon Russia to call off the exercise. PHOTO: ISPR

ISLAMABAD: When chief military spokesman Lt-Gen Asim Bajwa tweeted the arrival of Russian troops in Rawalpindi on Friday for the first-ever military exercise between the two Cold War era foes, it was clear that the seismic event would upset geo-strategic balance in the region and beyond — forever.

This was good news for Pakistan — both diplomatically and militarily. Diplomatically, because the two-week-long ‘Druzhba 2016’ (Friendship 2016) military drill is being conducted at the High Altitude School in Gilgit-Baltistan and a special forces training centre at Cherat in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Russian forces arrive in Pakistan for first-ever joint military exercise

This wasn’t good news for India, because it reportedly tried its best to prevail upon Russia to call off the exercise, citing ‘well-known sensitivities’. For Pakistan to conduct a major military exercise with Russian troops in the territory could be perceived as a big diplomatic win.

Militarily because it indicates that Russia is interested in learning from Pakistan’s military counterinsurgency (COIN) operations. Moreover, Russia can also use the exercise to showcase some of its military hardware useful for Pakistani COIN operations, including combat aircraft and infantry weapons. Moreover, watching Russian troops land in Pakistan is altogether a new experience in the region for political and military pundits. They presuppose that it’s a red line that Moscow has breached and things may never be the same again. After all Indians have asked Moscow to either choose Pakistan or India.

Talking about 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.”

Russia hasn’t called off joint military drills: Khalilullah

Mushahid agreed that the exercise could lead to a long-term relationship between the two countries.

In a loosening great power universe, the realignment has brought Pakistan, China and Russia closer to each other. This is a function largely of Russia’s worsening ties with the US. In Afghanistan, Russia believes IS is the real threat, not the Taliban, something Pakistan is at pains to push. Brigadier (retd) Said Nazir Mohmand says that the military relations between Pakistan and Russia will “create understanding and both will know about each other’s skills, tactics and expertise”.

“The use of ground and tactical skills will also help develop friendship,” Mohmand told The Express Tribune on Sunday. When asked why Russia, a long-time ally of India, chose to start military exercise with Pakistan, the former military officer argued, “There are no permanent friends and there are no permanent enemies in international relations.”

Published in The Express Tribune, September 27th, 2016.

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Reader Comments (23)

  • XoF
    Sep 27, 2016 - 9:04AM

    Awaiting insecure Indian comments. Recommend

  • Honest
    Sep 27, 2016 - 9:55AM

    Same here
    don’t know why they find only this Pakistani website to drop their comments. Probably so much desperate to unleash their hate :(Recommend

  • Russian
    Sep 27, 2016 - 10:11AM

    For us India is still the biggest market. Stop getting excited over a drill, last I heard even India and China have a drill. Even if Russia and Pakistan get close, what do you have to offer to us? If you want Russia to ditch India you must be ready to purchase minimum $20 billion worth goods and services from Russia every year. Even then I doubt Russia want to downgrade its relations with India. But that will be just a start. Recommend

  • Oommen
    Sep 27, 2016 - 10:12AM

    What “strategic” benefit will Russia get from Pakistan ?
    Pakistan can’t even procure 1/10 th of India-Russia defense deals. Recommend

    Sep 27, 2016 - 10:41AM

    China also does military exercise with India . As per the logic used by the writer , we should also expect a strategic shift there !Recommend

  • Zafar
    Sep 27, 2016 - 10:50AM

    I doubt that is your nationality but we Pakistanis are not so gullible to consider Russia our partner and friend and ask them to join our side in a conflict that has nothing to do with them. This is just a gesture that if Pakistan wants, it can have trade and military ties with Russia and who knows what in the future. I cannot help but laugh and roll on the floor because Indian media outlets were so quick and unprofessional in declaring that Russia has walked out from the exercises. Shows a great deal how much India is obsessed with pakistan. Indian people have this animosity towards Pakistanis which became pretty obvious when they elected Mr. Modi (the mastermind of Gujrat) as PM only based on his anti Pakistabn rhetoric and it is also very obvious by their media’s obsession with us. Media channels go for rating and they do it by showing what people want to see not what they need to see … and we all know what people in India want to see.Recommend

  • FAZ
    Sep 27, 2016 - 11:40AM

    O Bhai! When has Pakistan ever been ahead of India in terms of numbers? You are eight times larger in size and population. 10 times larger in economy. Inherited the best of infrastructures from the British and yet after almost 70 years you feel good comparing yourself with us. Infact its us Pakistanis who feel good to be such a pain in India’s back afterallRecommend

  • Sher
    Sep 27, 2016 - 12:05PM

    @Russian(Indian) @Oommen: Its not all about the defense market, its more about the network of corridors originating in the area which Russia is interested in. The central Asian states are already part of it and Pakistan is the center and the pioneer for such big corridor. Just wait an see Afghanistan (our younger brother) will also be part of it even though you tried to buy them, but do remember you can rent Afghans but you cannot buy them. This whole region is going to transform in next 5 to 10 years and Pakistan will be the heart of all this transformation.

    My suggestion to India would be to resolve the issue of Kashmir with Pakistan and be part of this huge strategic opportunity rather trying to sabotage.Recommend

  • roadkashehzada
    Sep 27, 2016 - 12:05PM

    its not about wht russia will sell TO pakistan, its about wht russia can sell THROUGH PakistanRecommend

  • Pakistani
    Sep 27, 2016 - 12:23PM

    We should try to have as many friends as possible.

    We should maintain a good relationship with US, China and Russia.Recommend

  • PakPower
    Sep 27, 2016 - 12:50PM

    Last I checked, you were an Indian saying the same words. Good username change – shows your insecurities.Recommend

  • Deepak Arora
    Sep 27, 2016 - 1:05PM

    FAZ. Agree with you as an Indian. We need to move away our focus. The reasons that we are not doing it are lack of education(not literacy) & good leaders who are visionaries. At present we have leaders who are exploiting the narrow vision of the masses. Recommend

  • Papoo
    Sep 27, 2016 - 1:35PM

    Russia may ask India if it will choose Russia or USA?Recommend

  • Naveed Azam
    Sep 27, 2016 - 2:13PM

    What my Indian friend here are missing is that bilateral relations does not solely depend on trade. Russia have surged back under Putin and it vows to reclaim its status of major world player and India has tilted towards America in last decade that makes Kremlin little agitated. I agree with @Deepak Arora that narrow vision of masses is being exploited and that holds true for Pakistan also.Recommend

  • Malik
    Sep 27, 2016 - 3:38PM

    Shallow and insecure Indian Trolls :(, even it is a win before war for Pakistan to engage fully a country 10 times bigger in any respect. Recommend

  • Naeem
    Sep 27, 2016 - 3:38PM

    Please read Stalin’s policy direction to Russians I.e. ” Don’t forget the East”. Now since China is coming in Indian Ocean, so will Russia and ultimately Russia shall be one of the 60 countries using the CPEC. Only India shall be able to join once they liberate Kashmir and settle border dispute with China. USA shall be squeezed to other issues by then. Recommend

  • Saeed Masood
    Sep 27, 2016 - 3:56PM

    Everyone has the freedom to choose or change or make new friends, anyway Russia is long awaiting for a good chance to take its Afghanistan revenge on America. Recommend

  • shahid
    Sep 27, 2016 - 8:07PM

    Pakistan’s leadership – is leader the right word for the crowd in power? – will never learn to stand on their own feet. They are always looking for masters, be it British, USA, China and now Russia. With a mercenary mindset, they are always looking for a deal for their own parochial and personal interests. The interests of Pakistan and its people are always, absolutely, the last priority for them. How passionately they relish the days of the Raj and would give anything today to get back in similar times if possible.Recommend

  • curious2
    Sep 27, 2016 - 8:13PM

    Countries perform joint military actions all the time – doesn’t mean there is a “strategic shift”. China has performed joint military exercises with NATO countries (Turkey and USA to name two) … what did that signal?Recommend

  • God
    Sep 27, 2016 - 8:29PM

    i hate you all. fighting always. my biggest regret was to send you to earth. — God.Recommend

  • Jatt
    Sep 28, 2016 - 7:41AM

    Having Russian exercises at this hour speaks volumes. India must raise this point with the Russians at the earliest. Even if symbolic and pre-scheduled, it is inacceptable from an old friend.Recommend

  • JSM
    Sep 28, 2016 - 5:30PM

    Will Russia support Pakistan if there is a war between India and Pakistan? That is the question. Do Pakistan support Russia for their action in Crimea?Recommend

  • Midas
    Sep 28, 2016 - 11:03PM

    I hope this is a new era if cooperation but being a sceptic I hope they were not here to check on Pak preparedness to advise India accordingly.Recommend

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