01 March, 2021

Enemy’s Friend

On the first handshake between Moscow and Islamabad

Enemy’s Friend

The beginning of the Russia-Pakistan joint war games at the end of September in Pakistan, involving a total of 200 troops (70 Russians and 130 Pakistanis), had the strategic community in Pakistan beaming. This was a reassurance that Islamabad was not isolated as Delhi would like to imagine. In fact, parts of Indian media had claimed that the military exercise was called off, which it was not. But this is not about a temporary smile on the faces of generals or foreign office bureaucrats. The fact is that both Moscow and Islamabad are trying to ­rew­rite their history differently and build a linkage that would potentially counterbalance the particular US rearr­angement in the South Asian region.

It would be too early to depict it as some phenomenal development. There is a long path to tread, but it indicates a significant shift from a decade ago, when even Pakistan’s foreign office claimed that there was too much of a gap between the two states. Pakistan’s military had started to eye Russian weapons after the US arms embargo in October 1990. While the...

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