Worried about increasingly close U.S.-India defense ties, Pakistan will conduct joint military exercises with Russia and begin buying arms from Moscow for the first time in decades, a key Pakistani lawmaker and aide to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Tuesday.
Pakistani Sen. Syed Mushahid Hussain detailed the growing ties with Moscow as India and Pakistan continue to fire salvos across the border in the disputed province of Kashmir, the spark for three previous wars between the nuclear-armed rivals. India dismissed the Pakistani move as another effort to escalate tensions in the region.
Mr. Hussain, who traveled to Washington on Tuesday as a special envoy to the prime minister, did not say when the bilateral military drills with Moscow would begin. He also declined to comment specifically on what types of weapons Islamabad would be seeking from Russian weapons makers during his briefing at the International Republican Institute. Pakistan’s military overtures to Russia, which was a major supplier of military hardware to India during the Cold War, were part of a “new regionalism” strategy being pursued by the Sharif regime, Mr. Hussain said. Islamabad is also proposing new infrastructure projects with China to open trade routes with their South and Central Asian neighbors, he added.
But countering India’s growing alliance with Washington was a driving factor in Islamabad’s decision to pursue stronger ties with Russia, he acknowledged.