The arrival of Russian troops in Pakistan on Thursday marks the beginning of the preparations of Druzhba 5, a joint Russian-Pakistani military exercise aimed at sharing expertise on counterterrorism. The two-week long exercise, due to commence on November 8, comes at a time when the US and India seem to enjoy stronger ties—especially after the Basic Exchange Cooperation Agreement (BECA). While a potential message sent out to the international community, Pakistan must utilise this opportunity to its benefit as an alliance with Russia could strengthen its position in the region.

The military exercise includes 70 soldiers from both sides and is being hosted at Tarbela. Not only would it allow for valuable information and tactics to be shared between both the countries but it would also strengthen military cooperation if the need ever arises. Furthermore, given the dire circumstances that the world is being subjected to, the responsibility with which the exercise is being carried out is appreciated—all the participants have been tested for the virus before the official commencement of the event.

Surely, such a partnership will only bolster the position of Pakistan in the region, as well as internationally. It is imperative that we make the most out of this opportunity of friendship, especially after being assigned unwarranted blame by the US and India during the BECA talks. With the backing of China and Russia, we would be in an improved position to fight for our ground and demand justice against Indian aggression.

The better acquainted we are with all the governments around us, the more the opportunities to promote peace and harmony within the region present themselves. Collective effort can ensure that the region prospers and is void of internal conflict in the future.