Nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan will be taking part in a multi-nation counter-terror exercise in Russia later this year, reports said. China and several other countries are also likely to participate in the military drill to be held in September under the framework of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
According to officials, the military exercise will be held in Russia’s Ural mountain range where defence forces from eight SCO member nations – India, China, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – will take part. They said that the main of the military exercise named ‘Peace Mission’ enhance counter-terror cooperation among the member nations.
The officials said India’s participation at the exercise was confirmed by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during a meeting of SCO Defence 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, they said.
India and Pakistan were admitted as observers of SCO, which was formed in 2001, in 2005. Both the 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. With expansion of the grouping, SCO now represents over 40 per cent of humanity and nearly 20 per cent of the global GDP.
India has been holding military exercise with China. The two countries are likely to resume their bilateral military exercise in September. Last year, the drill was suspended following a tense standoff between their troops in Doklam.