Islamabad: Pakistan to participate in counter-terrorism exercise organized by India Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in October, despite a cooling in bilateral relations, said a media report on Saturday.
The Express Tribune newspaper reported that Pakistani and Indian troops have taken part in an anti-terrorism exercise together, but this will be the first time that Pakistan will participate in such an exercise in India.
In the weekly briefing on Friday, the newspaper quoted Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar as saying that Pakistan will participate in the international counter-terrorism exercise to be held in October this year under the Regional Anti-Terrorism Framework (RATS) of the SCO.
“Yes, the SCO exercise will take place under the purview of RATS (Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure),” the spokesman said. He said India was presiding over the SCO RATS this year.
“These exercises are scheduled to take place in India in October at Manesar, and since Pakistan is a member, we will participate in it,” he said.
“At what stage, I think we’ll let you know when we get in touch on that,” the FO spokesperson said.
Apart from India, Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will participate in this exercise to be held in Manesar, Haryana.
India and Pakistan are part of the nine-member Beijing-based regional body under the SCO banner.
The move assumes significance in view of the tension between India and Pakistan after New Delhi abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5, 2019.
India’s decision drew strong backlash from Pakistan, which downgraded diplomatic ties and expelled the Indian envoy.
India has repeatedly told Pakistan that Jammu and Kashmir “was, is and always will be” and will remain an integral part of the country.
India has said that it wants normal neighborly relations with Pakistan in an environment free from terror, hostility and violence.