Indian and Pakistani soldiers, who are mostly pitted against each other along the LOC, are now going to participate in a military drill for the first time. The militaries of India and Pakistan are participating in a huge anti-terror combat drill of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Russia. This drill aims at expanding cooperation on the areas of internal & external security from various threats arising from terrorism among the member countries
India is participating in the drill for the first time after becoming a full member in June 2017. The SCO Peace Mission Exercise is generally conducted annually for the member states as a part of SCO initiative. This exercise is being conducted by the Central Military Commission of Russia. It will take place in between August 22 to August 29. The location is Chebarkul, Russia. This drill will involve all operations at the tactical level in a simulated environment of that of an international counterinsurgency or counter-terrorism one under the SCO Charter.
Near about 3,000 soldiers from different countries like China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, India, and Pakistan are taking part in this exercise. Adding to that ten more representatives from Uzbekistan will serve as observers. The Indian contingent will consist of 200 personnel. This will comprise of troops from infantry and other affiliated divisions and services together with the Indian Air Force. The Indian contingent has undergone rigorous training which includes firing, airborne or heliborne operations, acclimatization, various other tactical operations and house intervention drills.
The joint exercise will help in building mutual confidence, trust and will help in the sharing of best practices among armed forces of the member nations. In earlier cases, only a few Central Asian nations used take part in the drill. But with the entry of India and Pakistan, the number of participants has increased the drill has expanded to South Asia.
According to Li Wei, a counter-terrorism expert, the counter-terrorism cooperation among SCO countries is effective and has greatly thwarted terrorist groups in Central Asia. Recently, this effective cooperation will also boost stability in South Asia. The growing cooperation between SCO nations also greatly improves military and political mutual trust among the member nations, especially between India and Pakistan.
According to Sun Zhuangzhi, it is a rare opportunity for Pakistan and India to participate in a drill whereas they are involved in the military conflict for long. This can ensure regional stability.
According to Li, in future SCO countries have to come up with new military exercises targeting all terrorist groups in South Asia. He also suggested that the SCO should expand including Afghanistan. It is currently an observer country, This initiative will help in strengthening counter-terrorism efforts further in South Asia.
This drill thus created a good chance for the four major military powers in Indian Subcontinent – China, Russia, Pakistan and India – to participate in the same military exercise to ensure regional stability .