Russian troops after they arrived in Rawalpindi
A Russian mechanized infantry unit arrived in Pakistan on Friday for the first military exercise between the two rivals. Reports suggest part of the high altitude drill would be conducted in territory claimed by India, however Russia denied.
Lt Gen Asim Bajwa, head of the Pakistani military’s media arm, tweeted photos of the Russian troops after they flew into an airbase in Rawalpindi. It rested the speculation that Moscow would call off the practice in the wake of the terror attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri.
“Russian ground forces contingent arrived in Pakistan for first ever Pak- Russian joint exercise (two weeks) from September 24 to October 10,” Bajwa said. The contingent was welcomed by senior Pakistan Army officials before it left for the training venue.
About 200 soldiers from each side will join the two-week exercise “Druzhba 2016” (Friendship 2016), which is expected to focus on high-altitude warfare.
Russia’s state-run Tass news agency reported on Friday the exercise’s opening ceremony would be held at the “Pakistan Army’s High Altitude School in Rattu, Gilgit-Baltistan” on Saturday.
A statement issued late on Friday night by the Russian embassy in New Delhi, however, said the “only venue of the exercise is Cherat in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. The drill will not be held in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir or any sensitive areas like Gilgit-Baltistan.