Islamabad: As India and the United States start their joint military exercise from September 14 in Uttrakhand, Pakistan and Russia are set to hold their first-ever joint military exercises later this year, media reported on Monday.
This is 360 degree from the Cold war era, when the US was seen siding Pakistan, while Russia and India were close allies.
Around 200 military personnel from the two sides would take part in the joint military exercises, The Express Tribune quoted a senior Pakistani official as saying
The move comes amidst increasing defence ties between Moscow and Islamabad as the latter was also thinking to buy advanced Russian warplanes
Pakistan's Ambassador to Moscow Qazi Khalilullah told the newspaper that this is the first time that military personnel from the two countries would be taking part in joint military drills 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 told a Russian news agency last week
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, the paper said
Islamabad decided to broaden its foreign policy options after its relations with the US deteriorated after secret CIA raid in Abbottabad killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in May 2011
Pakistan's relations with the US were soured recently when US lawmakers blocked funds for the sale of eight Lockheed Martin Corporation?s F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan
Pakistan decided to look at alternative sources to purchase the aircraft including from Jordan
Over the last 15 months, the chiefs of Pakistan?s Army, Navy and Air Force travelled to Russia. The flurry of high-level exchanges between the two nations resulted in the signing of a deal for the sale of four MI-35 attack helicopters to Islamabad
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
Islamabad is eager to improve its ties with Moscow to diversify its options in the event of any stalemate in ties with Washington, The Express Tribune said
After securing a deal of MI-35 helicopters, Pakistan is also exploring options to buy Su-35 fighter jets from Russia, it said
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. Agencies