In a first such event, military personnel from India and Pakistan are participating in an anti-terrorism exercise organised by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Russia. The exercise is aimed at enhancing cooperation between member states to deal with the growing threat of terrorism and extremism.
This is the first time India is taking part in the drill since becoming a full member of SCO, along with Pakistan, last year. The SCO Peace Mission Exercise 2018 takes place every two years, with the present one being held at Chebarkul (Russia) from August 22 to 29.
The exercise will see tactical-level operation being carried out in an international counter-insurgency/counter-terrorism environment.
Around 3,000 soldiers from India, Pakistan, China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan are taking part in the exercise.
The Indian contingent has 200 personnel, mainly from the infantry and other arms along with some from the Indian Air Force.
The training schedule for the Indian contingent includes target practice, house intervention drills, tactical and heliborne operations and combat conditioning.
The joint drills will build mutual confidence, interoperability and sharing of knowledge among troops of SCO members. In previous editions, only Central Asian nations participated.
With India and Pakistan joining the exercise, SCO's counter-terrorism mission has expanded to South Asia, a region in a grip of terrorism and extremism.
Li Wei, a counter-terrorism expert at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations says the counter-terrorism cooperation between SCO countries has undermined terror groups in Central Asia and it is expected the cooperation will boost stability in South Asia, home to a variety of active terrorist groups.
"It is a rare opportunity for India and Pakistan, which have a history of military conflicts, to expand military exchanges and trust. This bodes well for stability in the region," says Sun Zhuangzhi, professor at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
SCO was established in Shanghai, China, in 2001 with China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan being the founding members.
The Peace Mission 2018 also created history when for the first time as four major military powers of the region – China, Russia, India and Pakistan – are participating in the same military drill.