India may not join anti-terror military exercise in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will host the anti-terror military exercise of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) later this year, but no decision has been made to invite Indian troops, a top military official told Dawn after the Pakistan Day parade on Thursday.

“Pakistan has not yet made any decision to invite Indian troops to take part in the military exercise,” he said.

The official could not be named as he is not authorised to talk to media. He said the Indian media was overplaying the decisions made on March 18 at the 36th meeting of the Council of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

“Such trainings result in both teaching as well as learning,” he said, adding that the success of Pakistan in defeating the roots and networks of terror had been recognised internationally.

“This is the reason that the honour to hold such an exercise has been give to the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), and the elite units of several countries, including Russia and China and SCO members, are participating in it,” the official said.

The exercise “Pabbi-Antiterror-2021” is likely to be held in September-October this year at the NCTC in Pabbi, Nowshera district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Meanwhile, another top military official said that it was less likely that Pakistan would invite Indian troops for the exercise owing to the traditional rivalry between the two nations.

“Pakistan has a strong and professional army, which has a reputation of successful counter-terror operations, and many countries are eager to participate in joint exercises with us to share our experiences amid this new global threat,” the official said.

He said the Indian media had been running stories that Indian forces would travel to Pakistan for any military exercise for the first time, “but it was far from truth at least for now”.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2021

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