Russian troops arrive for 1st ever Pak-Russian joint exercises

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the first ever joint Pak-Russian exercise
RAWALPINDI: 23 SEP - A contingent of Russian ground forces being welcomed upon its arrival in Pakistan for 1st ever Pak- Russian joint exercise (2 weeks) from 24 Sep to 10 Oct 2016. - DNA Photo

RAWALPINDI: A contingent of Russian ground forces arrived in Pakistan on Friday for the first ever joint Pak-Russian exercise kicking off Sept 24.

The two-week-long exercise is expected to continue until Oct 10, Director General Inter-Services Public Relations Asim Bajwa said.

The exercises with Russian ground forces come at a time when tensions between Pakistan and India are running high following an attack on the Uri military camp in India-held Kashmir.

Around 200 military personnel of both countries will participate in the drills.

The exercise is being seen as a demonstration of closer defence ties between the Pakistan and Russia after they signed a military cooperation pact in 2014.

It comes after intense drills by the Pakistani Air Force (PAF) earlier this week that officials said had been long-planned, including landing combat aircraft on the Islamabad-Lahore motorway.

The PAF on Thursday launched the Highmark Exercise, shutting down sections of the motorway leading out of the capital to land “several” combat aircraft for the first time in six years, a senior security source told media.

The ground forces will participate in the first Pak-Russian joint military exercise. - DNA
The ground forces will participate in the first Pak-Russian joint military exercise. – DNA

But Pakistani officials said Highmark is a routine exercise, with a senior security official telling media that preparations ─ including setting the dates it would take place ─ had begun around one year ago.

The drill is aimed an enhancing “operational preparedness”, theofficial said, and will continue for several weeks followed by months of evaluation.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nafees Zakariya said on Thursday that the moves were regular and routine.