Even though ties between India and Pakistan continue to worsen, the two neighbours will participate together for the first time in a multi-nation counter-terrorism exercise in Russia in September 2018.
The military exercise is being conducted by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and will see participation of almost member nations, including China.
The drill will cater resumption of bilateral military exercise between India and China, which was suspended last year following the 73-day Doklam standoff.
About Peace Mission 2018
Termed “Peace Mission”, the military exercise will be held at the Ural Mountains of Russia and its main aim will be to to enhance counter-terror cooperation among the eight SCO member countries.
The exercise will be held in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia from August 22 to August 29, 2018.
Even though military personnel of India and Pakistan have worked together in United Nations’ peace keeping missions, it will be for the first time since independence that the countries will take part in a military exercise.
Peace Mission is a biennially-held counter-terrorism exercise involving each SCO member. In 2016, it was held in Kyrgyzstan. Its purpose is to examine the coordination and combat readiness of SCO members for joint counter-terrorism operations.
About Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the Presidents of Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It is increasingly seen as a counterweight to NATO
India and Pakistan were admitted as observers of the grouping in 2005. Both the countries were admitted as full members of the bloc in 2017 making the group a 8-member bloc. 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 the threat of terrorism in the region. It is also keen on deepening its security-related cooperation with the SCO and its Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS) which is headquartered in Tashkent (Uzbekistan) and specifically deals with issues relating to security and defence.
SCO now represents over 40% of humanity and nearly 20% of the global GDP and is aimed at cultivating multilateral cooperation in many areas, including trade, energy, education, tourism and others.
While repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan from across the Line of Control and interference in Kashmir by lending support to militant groups have seen relations between the countries on a free fall, the participation in a joint military exercise is certainly a positive step.