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Russia suspends joint military exercise with Pakistan

Bajwa’s comments, interpreted as seeking to repair ties with old ally US which had turned lukewarm in recent years under the premiership of Imran Khan, came ahead of the scheduled no-confidence motion against the Khan government in the national assembly on Sunday.

Moscow, Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa statement that the country has excellent ties with the United States and that it could not support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may cast a shadow on Pakistan’s limited security partnership with Russia and could even derail bilateral counterterrorism military exercises launched a few years ago.

Bajwa’s comments, interpreted as seeking to repair ties with old ally US which had turned lukewarm in recent years under the premiership of Imran Khan, came ahead of the scheduled no-confidence motion against the Khan government in the national assembly on Sunday.

It would be music to India’s ears if the Pakistan-Russia military exercises are suspended, said people aware of the matter. While the depth of India-Russia military partnership is incomparable with Pakistan’s limited defence ties with Russia, India has kept a close watch on the evolving Pakistan-Russia military cooperation, they said. Russia has assuaged India’s concerns saying that any military exercise with Pakistan is limited in scope and focuses on counterterrorism in the backdrop of presence of terrorist network in Af-Pak region. Russia has traditionally backed India over Kashmir and its position vis-a-vis Pakistan for decades and stated that any possible defence sales to Pakistan are limited in nature, including items like helicopters.

Russia has viewed Bajwa’s statement as an attempt to repair Pakistan’s ties with the US and is studying implications of this on Pakistan Army’s policy towards Russia in the coming months under a new dispensation in Pakistan, according to people aware of the matter. There are reports that Bajwa had expressed his disapproval of Khan’s Moscow visit in February amid the Ukraine crisis, even though the visit failed to yield any concrete results. Though limited in scope, militaries of Russia and Pakistan held a military exercise in Russian territory in September 2021. Pakistan was a frontline state in the US’ Cold War strategy in South Asia, often working against interests of the then Soviet Union and India. The erstwhile Soviet Union and later Russia have often held Pakistan responsible for abetting and training mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Pakistan had sourced most of its defence equipment from the US before it turned to China.

The destruction of Ukraine’s military industrial complex, which has been working closely with Pakistan, will also add to Pakistan’s woes, said the people. The Pakistan Army is unlikely to obtain any replacement from Russia to compensate for its losses from Ukraine. For all practical purposes the Karachi-Lahore gas pipeline project, proposed to be backed by Russia, is over, said people familiar with the matter. During Khan’s Moscow visit, Russia refused to provide any sovereign guarantee for the

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