India, Pak at anti-terror drill in Russia despite tension

New Delhi, Sep 9 (IANS) India will take part in a joint international anti-terror military drill with Pakistan from Monday, despite tensions between the two nations at the Line of Control (LoC) over the Kashmir issue.

The 15-day-long military exercise begins in Orenburg in Russia from Monday under the aegis of the China-backed Shanghai Co-operation Organisation. Apart from India and Pakistan, the host country Russia, as well as China and four other nations, are also taking part in the annual military training exercise.

“The exercise aims at evolving drills of the participating armies and practising them in the fight against the scourge of international terrorism thereby ensuring military security in the strategic Central Asian region,” a statement from the defence ministry said.

The exercise named TSENTR 2019 – comprises two modules including one on counter-terror operations, repelling airstrikes, reconnaissance operations and defensive measures. The second module focuses on offensive operations.

The Russian military drill is the first instance this year when armed forces from the nuclear-powered neighbours – India and Pakistan, will participate at a common platform ever since the Balakot anti-terror airstrikes in February.

Diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan reached a new low following the Balakot incident. The relations reached a nadir after India withdrew special status to Jammu and Kashmir by revoking Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5.

India has been alleging Pakistan of upping the ante at the LoC through continuous ceasefire violations. Pakistan has been alleged of attempts to push through trained militants across the LoC into the Kashmir valley under cover of shelling during these violations.

On the other hand, Pakistan has alleged India of committing large-scale human rights’ violations in Jammu and Kashmir after imposing unprecedented security cover across the valley and cutting off all communication lines.

The exercise, which is being held in the backdrop of these allegations and counter-allegations, will focus on evaluating the level of troop preparedness, acquisition of required skills and raising levels of inter-operability, and demonstrating the readiness of participating armies.

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are also taking part in the annual event that is being held at the Donguz training centre in Orenburg.

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