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August 26, 2018

Training of Pak military officers at Russian institutes


August 26, 2018

An historic agreement has recently been signed between Pakistan and Russia for training of Pakistani troops in Russia. This was decided at the culmination of the first meeting of Joint Military Consultative Committee (JMCC) -- the highest forum of defence collaboration between the two countries. The Russian side was led by Deputy Defence Minister Col Gen. Alexander V Fomin, who visited Pakistan to attend the first session of JMCC. Lt. Gen (retd) Zamirul Hassan Shah, Secretary Defence, led the Pakistani delegation during the meeting.

According to the Ministry of Defence in Rawalpindi: “A comprehensive issue based review was also carried out during which the two countries expressed satisfaction on the milestones achieved since the signing of ground breaking agreement on defence cooperation in 2014. At the inaugural session of JMCC, both sides exchanged views on bilateral and major international issues, including situation in the Middle East and Afghanistan.”

A Pakistan Army spokesman said that Col Gen Fomin met Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and discussed the regional security situation and matters of mutual interest, including enhancement of bilateral defence and security cooperation. Pakistan and Russia began cooperation in the defence sector in 2014 when the two nations signed an agreement for boosting bilateral ties. Later, Islamabad bought four Mi-35 combat helicopters from Russia. Then came counter-terror military drills and an anti-drugs operation in the Arabian Sea.

It was also reported in the media that a Pakistani warship had participated in the Russian Navy Day parade. “It was a very important event for us. Actually, an illustration of this importance is that this parade was taken by the commander-in-chief of Russian armed forces, President Putin,” Russian ambassador to Pakistan, Alexey Dedov, stated. “This cooperation is developing into many directions. So, there is quite a wide spectrum. And, of course, this is a reflection of our approach to the relations with Pakistan, which to our country has their own independent value for us.”

Meanwhile, Russian officials have lavishly praised Pakistan for taking major steps to eliminate terrorism from its soil. “It [Pakistan] is a very, very important party, not only in the regional stability, the stability worldwide. Our countries face similar challenges and threats to national security,” said Russian ambassador Dedov, while speaking at a seminar in Islamabad. On the other hand, General Fomin expressed his “appreciation for Pakistan Army's achievements against terrorism and expressed requirement of greater cooperative and collaborative approach among global community to defeat extremism.”

As it is, Pakistan’s defence ties with Russia are growing stronger with each passing day and this pact has opened new avenues of cooperation between the two countries. A desire from both sides has already been seen in the near past in boosting economic and political relations. Obviously, these moves are seen with suspicion by US and India. The fact of the matter is that Trump’s policies towards Pakistan have forced it to find new alliances.

India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has denied having raised any concern over the recently signed defence agreement between Russia and Pakistan. The MEA, in its weekly briefing, said that India's relationship with Russia is independent of each other's relationship with other countries. But several Indian media outlets and former defence personnel are worried, terming the agreement as a sign of Russia's growing ties with Pakistan. "Russia-Pak ties have been in the making since 2003; expected to achieve pace they signal India's unreal policy of isolating Pak; if anything Pak has emerged as a major geopolitical player with India appearing isolated in neighbourhood and region," Pravin Sawhney, ex-Indian Army and editor of FORCE news magazine on national security and defense, tweeted.

Nevertheless, it seems that both countries would continue to deepen defence and trade relations, bringing an end to the acrimonious legacy of the Cold War.

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