Pakistan Set to Host Anti-Terror Drill Under SCO, No Word from India Yet

Pakistan appears set to host a joint anti-terrorism exercise later this year, according to the Regional Anti-Terror structure (RATS) of the eight-member Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

SCO, an economic and security bloc, has China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as its founding members. India and Pakistan became members of the grouping in 2017.

Sources in India’s defence ministry were tight-lipped about the development. They did not deny it, but said a “final decision about India’s participation” was yet to be taken.

The decision to hold the joint exercise, “Pabbi-Anti Terror-21”, was announced by RATS. The dates have not been finalised yet.

“Pakistani side presented preliminary information on the design and preparation of JATE “Pabbi-Antiterror-2021”. The meeting had constructive dialogue and exchange of views on the issues and identified further measures on preparation of the planned joint activities,” the press note said.

Pabbi is in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan and is the base of its National Counter Terror Centre.

The development came about a month after India opened its airspace for Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Sri Lanka. Then the two countries also agreed to observe a ceasefire at the Line of Control from February 25. Last week Gen Qamar Bajwa, Pakistan’s army chief, spoke of “burying the past and moving on”, sparking hopes of a new beginning. Over the weekend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wished Khan, who has contracted Covid-19, speedy recovery.

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