Pakistan India militaries all set to make history

Pakistan India militaries all set to make history
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BEIJING - A joint military exercise of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states to be held in Russia in which Indian and Pakistani armies are taking part for the first time will help ease tensions between the two neighbours and promote positive interactions, Chinese experts have said.

Member states of the SCO will participate in the joint military drill dubbed Peace Mission 2018 to promote mutual trust, cooperation and coordination against terrorist threats and to maintain regional peace and stability, the China Daily reported today.

The drill will follow the 18th SCO Summit, scheduled for June 9 and 10 in Qingdao, Shandong province, the daily said.

The summit will be attended by a host of world leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The last exercise of the SCO was held in Kyrgyzstan in September 2016. The 2018 exercise will be the first for India and Pakistan since becoming full members of the SCO in 2017, the daily reported.

The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the Presidents of Russia, China , Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan became its members last year.

It also will be the first time India and Pakistan take part in a military exercise together since their independence, though their militaries have previously worked on United Nations peacekeeping missions, the daily said.

Li Xing, a professor of international relations at Beijing Normal University, said India and Pakistan joining the exercise represents a new height in security cooperation through the SCO .

"India and Pakistan have had many conflicts, but the SCO exercise can facilitate positive interactions between the two militaries and help ease tensions between the two countries," Li said.

Li Li, a researcher of South Asian countries at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said many exchange mechanisms between Pakistan and India have been halted due to constant border tensions.

"It is very rare for the 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," she told the daily.

The drill's command post exercise will take place at the Chebarkulsky training ground in the Ural Mountains.

Chiefs of general staff of the SCO nations will also hold a meeting during the joint military drills.

The exercises are biannual, multinational drills with the goal of enhancing counterterrorism coordination and cooperation among the eight member countries, the paper said.

India's membership was strongly pushed by Russia while Pakistan's entry into the grouping was backed by China . With the expansion of the grouping, SCO now represents over 40% of humanity and nearly 20% of the global GDP.

India is hopeful that cooperation in security and counter-terrorism among SCO members can 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 specifically deals with issues relating to security and defence.

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