Anti-terror exercises appear to be the flavour of the season. Soon after the Indian Army team returns from Exercise Maitree, an annual military exercise with the Royal Thai Army which focuses on counter-terror and anti-insurgency operations, India will host the first military exercise of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) countries at the Aundh Military Station in Pune in mid-September. BIMSTEC is a group comprising India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand.
The main aim of this exercise is to promote strategic alignment and share the best practices in counter-terrorism. In another first, the exercise will conclude with a conclave of army chiefs from all these nations, who will discuss ways to jointly combat terrorism and transnational crime. Later in the year, India and Pakistan will join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation members in an anti-terror exercise in Russia. Though they have conducted joint operations for the UN peacekeeping forces, this will be the first time that the two arch-rivals—who are officially not on speaking terms—will take part in an anti-terror exercise. Ironically, the export of terrorism from Pakistan is the main reason for the spat with India.
India hopes it will be able to convince the other SCO members—China, Russia, and the central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan about Pakistani perfidy in Kashmir. It also wants the members to play a major role in addressing the threat of terrorism in the Eurasian region, including the Af-Pak zone. Pakistan, on the other hand, is pressing for SCO intervention in Kashmir, and much to Delhi’s chagrin, both China and Russia have expressed a desire to mediate in the dispute. With Indian intelligence warning that Pakistani terrorists are planning yet another major strike in India ahead of Independence Day, it remains to be seen whether the joint
exercise with Pakistan will yield any positive results.