Just a day after five Pakistani militants attacked an Army camp in Kashmir’s Uri District and killed 19 Indian soldiers, Russia called off joint military exercise with Pakistan.

On September 17, Islamabad announced that Pakistan and Russia would conduct the ‘Druzhba-2016’ tactical exercises from September 24-October 7 in Rattu and Cherat. The Indian External Affairs Ministry immediately sent a letter to Kremlin, requesting Moscow not to conduct joint military drills with a nation that sponsors terrorism. The concerned Russian authorities responded positively on Monday and called off the joint drills with Pakistan.

Kremlin, considered as India’s oldest and closest international partner, also condemned the Uri terror attack, with the Russian Foreign Ministry saying in a statement: “We strongly condemn the terrorist attack on an Army base in Uri in the early hours of September 18, which killed 19 and injured 30 service personnel. We offer our condolences to the families of the victims and wish a rapid recovery to all those injured. We are also concerned about the fact that, according to New Delhi, the Army base near Uri was attacked from Pakistani territory.”

Japan and France, too, condemned the terror strike on the Army camp and expressed solidarity with India. The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in an official statement: “The Government of Japan strongly condemns the terrorist attack on the Indian base in Uri and extends its sincere condolences to those who lost their lives and their bereaved families, and expresses its heartfelt sympathy to those who were injured. Japan expresses its solidarity with India in the fight against terrorism.”

France asked Pakistan to take action against home-grown terror outfits, saying: “After that of Pathankot earlier this year, this attack reminds us that India, like France, is a victim of terrorism. More than ever before, we remain at the side of our strategic partner, India, for fighting this scourge.”

Meanwhile, India has welcomed Russia’s decision to call off joint military drills with Pakistan, saying that it is a big diplomatic gain for New Delhi which is planning to isolate Islamabad globally. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who chaired a high-level meeting on Monday, decided to diplomatically isolate the neighbouring country at every international grouping for harbouring terror. Participants in the meeting also advised the PM to adopt the strategy to present all actionable evidence against Pakistan (if required) at different international bodies.

During the meeting, PM Modi asked his Cabinet members and defence chiefs to put all options on the table for his government to take the final call on the nature of New Delhi’s response. The Army, which is ready to hit back Pakistan, told the PM that it would like to conduct air strikes on terror camps in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) with Mirage 2000s, Jaguars and Sukhoi 30MKIs, armed with laser-guided or cluster bombs. The Army also made clear that no ground troops would be involved in the operation in order to reduce the possibility of Indians being captured. Although the PM authorised the Army to deliver an effective response to the latest terror attack triggered by Pakistani outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed, it is still not clear whether he accepted the Army’s request.

Prime Minister Modi only confirmed that he would skip the next SAARC Summit to be hosted by Pakistan. According to sources close to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the PM made such a decision as India’s major priority is to isolate Pakistan in South Asia. Former Indian High Commissioner to Islamabad G Parthasarathy has congratulated the PM for taking such a bold decision, stressing: “India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh have already lowered their level of participation in SAARC events in Islamabad. The three countries should retain this solidarity…even consider boycotting it.”

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog – Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]