WASHINGTON - Pakistan’s growing military ties with Russia, which was a major arms supplier to India during the Cold War, were part of a “new regionalism” strategy being pursued by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government, Senator Syed Mushahid Hussain has said.

In a report published by The Washington Times, a conservative newspaper, he was quoted as stating that Pakistan was also undertaking new infrastructure projects with China to open trade routes with its South and Central Asian neighbours.

But countering India’s growing alliance with Washington was a driving factor in Islamabad’s decision to pursue stronger ties with Russia, he said.

“India has a veto” over Washington’s efforts to provide military assistance to Pakistan, Sen. Mushahid Hussain said, citing the collapse of a multimillion-dollar deal by the US to sell Pakistan eight F-16 fighters earlier this year.

Pakistan fears that Indian influence has pressured the Obama administration to “divert attention away from the [conflict]” in Kashmir and “scapegoat Pakistan” as the cause for the current unrest in the disputed region, he added.

New Delhi claimed last Thursday it had carried out a series of airstrikes against suspected terrorist targets inside Azad Kashmir.  The strikes, it said, were in response to a Sept. 18 attack on an Indian Army base in Uri sector of Indian Occupied Kashmir.

Pakistan states that while India did engage in unprovoked firing and shelling, but no Indian troops crossed the Line-of-Control that divides Jammu and Kashmir.

Senator Mushahid Hussain, who is in Washington as a special envoy to the Prime Minister, was speaking to reporters amid growing tensions between India and Pakistan.