Moscow's growing ties with Pakistan giving "sleepless nights" to India: TOI

Moscow's growing ties with Pakistan giving

ISLAMABAD (APP): The Russian interest in linking its Eurasian Economic Union project with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was giving "sleepless nights to Indian policy makers" who have sought to isolate Islamabad on the issue of terrorism.

A report in the Times of India by Sachin Parashar pointed to Moscow's "growing ties" with Pakistan and said Moscow has not just declared strong support for the China-funded project but also announced its intention to link its own Eurasian Economic Union project with CPEC.

The Indian paper said CPEC, linking Gwadar in Balochistan to Xinjiang in China, remains a major bugbear for Indian foreign policy as it passes through the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, which is also claimed by India.

The paper said Beijing has shown scant regard for India's concerns despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself having taken up the issue of Chinese involvement in the "disputed territory" with President Xi Jinping.

The paper pointed that Russia's ambassador to Pakistan Alexey Y Dedov has now been quoted as saying that Russia and Pakistan have held discussions to merge Moscow's Eurasian Economic Union project with the CPEC.

Dedov said Russia "strongly" supported CPEC as it was important for Pakistan's economy and also regional connectivity.

The mixed signals emanating from Moscow, as strategic affairs expert Brahma Chellaney said, were injecting uncertainty in the direction of the Russia-India relationship whose trajectory long epitomized constancy and stability.

"It is as if Moscow no longer sees India as a reliable friend or partner ... Russia is challenging India's core interests," Chellaney said.

India continues to officially maintain that it doesn't see any "downward trend" in relations with Russia.

For India though, Russia further queered the situation in Afghanistan by declaring that it regarded Afghan Taliban as a national military-political movement.

India was disturbed by Russia's decision to hold its first ever joint military exercise with Pakistan days after Uri terror strike which left 19 Indian soldiers dead.

The Russians justified it by saying that the exercise was meant to help Pakistan deal with terrorism.

At the Brics Goa summit in October, Russia chose not to help India publicly name Pakistan based terrorist outfits like Lashkar and Jaish in the official declaration in the face of Chinese resistance.

Russia continues to insist that its ties with Pakistan will not come at India's cost.

Asked about the Russia-Pakistan military exercise though, at the recent Heart of Asia conference, Russia's presidential envoy to Pakistan Zamir Kabulov said Moscow didn't complain about India's close cooperation with the US and so India also shouldn't complain about "much low level" of cooperation between Russia and Pakistan. India may or may not complain, but it's certainly watching with eyes wide open, the paper said.