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Russian, Pakistani Forces Launch Joint Exercise In Northwestern Pakistan


The Dryuzhba (Friendship) drills have been held annually since 2016. (illustrative photo)

Around 200 Russian and Pakistani troops have kicked off annual joint exercises in the mountainous Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province in northwestern Pakistan.

A contingent of more than 70 mountain troops from a motorized rifle brigade based in the North Caucasus republic of Karachai-Cherkessia is participating in the Druzhba-2018 exercises, Russia's Southern Military District said in a statement on October 22.

The military exercises are set to run through November 4.

The Dryuzhba (Friendship) drills have been held annually since 2016. Last year, more than 200 troops took part in the exercises held in mountainous Karachai-Cherkessia.

The purpose of the war games is to strengthen cooperation between the two countries' militaries and exchange professional experience, particularly in counterterrorism.

There are Islamist militants in both Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and the North Caucasus.

Pakistan and Russia signed a defense cooperation agreement in 2014 that provides for cooperation on promoting international security.

The accord calls for the intensification of counterterrorism efforts and arms control activities as well as strengthening military cooperation and sharing experiences in counterterrorism operations.

Warm ties between Moscow and Pakistan's regional rival India go back to the Soviet era, but Russia has also sought to improve relations with Pakistan in recent years.

With reporting by TASS and Dawn
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    RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal

    Radio Mashaal was launched in January 2010 in order to counter a growing number of Islamic extremist radio stations in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province (now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the border with Afghanistan.

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