New Delhi, September 24: India has been caught up in some bad diplomatic news of late. The country that has been India’s best friend through the years, Russia has decided that it wants to conduct joint military exercises with India’s rogue neighbour and all-time enemy country, Pakistan. Though this in itself, is some bad news, the Russia’s state-run Tass news agency declared that Russia would go against India’s sensitivities and conduct the operations in Gilgit-Baltistan, which is essentially Indian territory held by Pakistan. This is especially bad considering the perilous state that India-Pakistan relations stand on after the dastardly Uri attacks.Also Read - New Covid Variant Threat: Pakistan Bans Travel From THESE 7 Countries. Check Details Here
Pakistan who would indeed be ecstatic with such a diplomatic catch wasted no time in announcing the news to the world. Early on Friday morning,Pakistan’s chief military spokesman Lt Gen Asim Bajwa tweeted out that a contingent of Russian troops had arrived in Rawalpindi for the first military exercise between the two countries. The exercise is to be two weeks long and to India’s sorrow, the drill is to be called “Druzhba 2016” (Friendship 2016). Also Read - Omicron Response: List of Countries That Have Put Travel Restrictions To African Nations
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The news was also announced by Russia’s state-run Tass news agency. A few hours after the Russian troops reached Rawalpindi, the agency issued a statement that said, “The opening ceremony of the Friendship 2016 drills will take place on September 24 at Pakistan Army’s High Altitude School in Rattu, Gilgit-Baltistan.” This, of course, was a shocker for India. Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Vikas Swarup, spoke to the media and said on Thursday that Gilgit-Baltistan was “part of Indian territory” and India’s “well-known sensitivities” had been conveyed to Russia, including at a meeting of the Inter-Governmental Commission in New Delhi on September 13. (ALSO READ: Indian, Russian troops begin joint military drills in Russia)
After the diplomatic push by India, The Russian Embassy in India clarified its stance on the issue and published a statement on Friday morning. The statement said that the drill wouldn’t be held in any “sensitive or problematic areas” such as Gilgit-Baltistan.The original Tass news report on the exercise was also edited to remove all references to Gilgit-Baltistan.
Russia and Pakistan have remained historical rivals due to Pakistan’s proximity to America. However, there seems to be trouble in paradise for the Pakistan-America relations, with the U.S even going to the extent of releasing a bill calling Pakistan a global sponsor of terrorism, Pakistan has decided it needs to get closer to Russia. Pakistan it seems is stuck in the cold war years. Though India does not expect Russia do follow a zero-sum game in its relations, chumming up to Pakistan, still hurts the Indian sentiments. Though India itself has improved its diplomatic relations with the United states during Narendra Modi’s Prime Ministership, the relation is mainly based on a confluence of interests and like most of India’s relations, remains a mere friendship and not an alliance. Russia or the former Soviet Union has always remained the only ally India has had in the world.