ISLAMABAD: A Russian military delegation on Thursday undertook an unprecedented visit to North Waziristan to witness the Pakistan Army’s success in clearing the region of terrorists.
The Russian delegation led by Deputy Chief of General Staff Colonel General Israkov Sergi Yuryevich visited Miramshah. The delegation was accompanied by Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Nazir Ahmed Butt.
“The delegation acknowledged and appreciated the Pakistan Army’s achievements in fight against terrorism and efforts to bring stability in the region,” the ISPR said.
The delegation was briefed about the action against terrorists of “all hues and shades”, Pak-Afghan border management and socio-economic development projects in the area for enduring stability.
Russia has increasingly been taking interest in Afghanistan and the militancy in the region. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) could be of particular interest to Moscow because several terrorists from Central Asian countries were based here prior to Operation Zarb-i-Azb. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan was one of the terrorist groups that once had sanctuaries in this region. The IMU is now aligned with the militant Islamic State group and operating from Afghanistan.
The delegation was also scheduled to visit Wana (South Waziristan), but the trip had to be cancelled due to bad weather.
Defence cooperation between Pakistan and Russia has lately been growing since the two signed a defence cooperation agreement in November 2014, which provides for cooperation for promoting international security, intensification of counterterrorism efforts and arms control activities, strengthening collaboration in various military fields and sharing experiences.
Last year a Russian contingent took part in special operations drills in Pakistan codenamed ‘Druzhbha-2016’ — a Russian word meaning “friendship”.
A defence analyst, while commenting on the Russian military’s visit to Fata, said: “Russia and China with Pakistan can have a great alliance for stability and prosperity in the region.”
But apparently the visit happened because of the military’s policy of being more open about Fata region.
Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2017