Russia has strongly denied reports that it is conducting first-ever joint military exercise with Pakistan in PoK. Russian Embassy in Delhi, denied the reports by TASS agency that the exercise will be held at Rattu in Gilgit-Baltistan adding they are “erroneous” and “mischievous”.
Russian Embassy stated that “the Russia-Pakistan anti-terror exercise is not being held and will not be held in any point of so-called ‘Azad Kashmir’ (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) or in any other sensitive or problematic areas like Gilgit and Baltistan. The only venue of the exercise is Cherat.”
Cherat lies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, about 34 miles south-east from Peshawar.
Tass meanwhile has removed the quote attributed to the Russian Southern Military Command, saying the “opening ceremony drills, ” of the exercise will be held at Pakistan Army’s High Altitude School at Rattu in Gilgit-Baltistan.
The venue and timing of the drill has created a huge uproar in Indian media, due to country’s historic military ties with USSR.
There were speculations that Russia might call off the exercise amid the escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan.
Earlier India has expressed its concerns to Russia that, the venue was under its possession before Paksitan backed militants crossed into Kashmir and annexed it from its Hindu ruler in 1948.
India’s External affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup on Thursday said, the area was “part of Indian territory”.
He added,New Delhi’s has communicated its “well known sensitivities” to Moscow on this issue.
On Friday, General Asim Bajwa, Director General ISPR, shared photos of over 200 Russian Army personnels arriving at Rawalpindi to attend the two-week long counter terrorism drill.
A contingent of Russian ground forces arrived Pak for 1st ever Pak- Russian joint exercise (2 weeks) from 24 Sep to 10 Oct 2016 pic.twitter.com/eWzQMlENL6
— Gen Asim Bajwa (@AsimBajwaISPR) September 23, 2016
Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif visited National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) located near Kharian… https://t.co/CuP5GaPp7m
— ISPR (@ISPR_Official) September 23, 2016