Joint military drill in August may ease India-Pakistan tension


SCO exercise to be held in Ural mountains, involving eight countries, including China

NEW DELHI: The Indian and Pakistani militaries will participate in a joint exercise along with six other countries, including China, in Russia this August, with Chinese experts saying the manoeuvres could ease tensions between the two neighbours and mark a new high for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). The drill could include a rare meeting between the Indian and Pakistani chiefs of general staff.

This will be the first time India and Pakistan will jointly participate in a military exercise since independence, though their militaries have worked side-by-side during UN peace keeping missions. The joint counterterrorism command post exercise, codenamed Peace Mission 2018, will feature members of SCO and will be held at Chebarkulsky training ground in the Ural mountains.
“It is planned that chiefs of general staff of the SCO states will hold meetings within the drills,” Russia’s defence ministry announced last week. Military representatives from SCO countries met in Russia last week to discuss the “concept of the exercise, the plan of practical actions as well as the strength and forces and means (to be) involved”, it added. The drill will follow the 18th SCO Summit, scheduled for June 9-10 in the coast city of Qingdao. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to attend the meet. Li Li, a leading expert on South Asia at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told China Daily that many exchange mechanisms between Pakistan and India have been halted due to constant border tensions.
“It is very rare for Indian and Pakistani militaries to interact with each other,” she said. “The SCO is a great platform for member nations to build mutual trust, improve their ability to tackle terrorist threats and maintain regional peace and security.” India and Pakistan both became full members of SCO in June 2017.