Russia backs Pakistan support in Indian conference

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Extremism needs incentive: Gen VK Singh on growing Russia-Pakistan ties

Singh’s Russian counterpart, Igor Morgulov, however, reacted that Russia wouldn’t entirely dismiss a trilateral alliance between Russia, China and Pakistan to counter terrorism in the region

General (retired) VK Singh has sounded a subtle warning to Russia over its growing proximity to Pakistan, noting that there’s a large Muslim population in the south of Russia.

“Extremism needs incentive. The moment you start giving it even a little bit of support (sic). Even China has its own minorities. There are vulnerable areas in southern part of Russia. I am sure both the countries are cognisant of the fact,” the Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs remarked during a panel discussion on Thursday at the Raisina Dialogue, a three-day foreign policy conference jointly organised by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Delhi-based think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

The nascent relationship between Moscow and Islamabad, erstwhile Cold War foes, has been creating anxiety in the leadership of New Delhi since it emerged last year that Moscow had supplied four Mi-35M combat helicopters to the Pakistani Army. In 2016, the two countries held their ever joint military exercise, Druzhba 2016, in Pakistan. The second edition of the joint military drills took place in Russia in September last year.

“The danger today that the world faces is from radicalisation. Anybody who supports it either directly or indirectly is bound to suffer. And we have seen this happening in the past,” General Singh also said during the discussion, The Afghan Poser, also featuring Afghanistan’s former President Hamid Karzai and Russia’s deputy minister of foreign affairs Igor Morgulov.

Singh’s remarks on burgeoning Russia-Pakistan ties assume significance as they are the first by a Modi government minister on the emerging bilateral relationship, in the backdrop of ever closer ties between the Donald Trump administration and India.

However, Singh’s Russian counterpart Igor Morgulov, said that Russia was just helping Pakistan with counter-insurgency to fight terrorist groups operating out of the country.

Morgulov also remarked during the discussion that Russia wouldn’t entirely dismiss a trilateral alliance between Russia, China and Pakistan to counter the threat of terrorism in the region.

“Whether it is good to have a trilateral arrangement, comprising Russia-China-Pakistan. Any format that could bring result will be good, with Russia’s participation or not,” he said.

The Indian minister didn’t find much support in former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai either, with the leader highlighting that Russia-Pakistan relations were a relatively new phenomenon, as compared to US-Pakistan ties.

“Russia-Pakistan relationship is very new. It is not an old relationship. Russia was actually fighting Pakistan during the Afghanistan war,” Karzai said, when asked if Russia’s support of Pakistan was detrimental to India’s stand, which has been lobbying other countries to pressure Islamabad over its propping up of terrorist organisations.

“I think there are 90 times more US weapons in Afghanistan than Russian weapons. Shouldn’t we first correct the US part?” he asked.

Karzai said that is still waited to be seen if US President Donald Trump would “walk the talk” over his New Year Day’s tweet of cutting aid to Pakistan.

By DHAIRYA MAHESHWARI

www.nationalheraldindia.com

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