For the first time, India-Pakistan to participate in counter-terror exercise
(Sourced from PTI)
In a first, arch rivals India and Pakistan will be part of a multi-nation counter-terror exercise in Russia in September, which will also be joined by China and several other countries. The military exercise will take place under the framework of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a China-dominated security grouping which is increasingly seen as a counterweight to NATO, officials said.
The military drill will be held in the Ural mountains of Russia and almost all SCO member countries will be part of it. Officials said the main aim of the exercise, Peace Mission, will be to enhance counter-terror cooperation among the eight SCO member countries.
The officials said India's participation at exercise was confirmed by Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during a meeting of SCO Defense Ministers' meeting in Beijing last week. It will be for the first time since Independence that India and Pakistan will both be part of a military exercise, though the armies of the two nations have worked together in UN peace keeping missions, officials added.
The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the Presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan were admitted as observers of the grouping in 2005. Both countries were admitted as full members of the bloc last year. India's membership was strongly pushed by Russia while Pakistan's entry into the grouping was backed by China.
India feels that as an SCO member, it will be able to play a major role in addressing terrorism. It is also keen on deepening its security-related cooperation with SCO and it's Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS) which specifically deals with security and defense issues. India has been holding military exercise with China. The two countries are likely to resume their bilateral-military exercise in September.