India, Pakistan to join SCO, may move toward joint military exercises

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Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif are expected in Kazakhstan’s capital on Thursday as India and Pakistan ready to become members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

The Indian Express recently reported that the two countries will be moving toward participation in “joint military exercises” in order to have counter-terrorism cooperation.

Conducting joint military exercises along with other SCO countries will be a rare occurrence since the only time Pakistan and India have served together is under the United Nations flag, the report said.

The current members of the SCO are China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan will be part of the Tashkent-based Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS) when they join the SCO.

The Indian Express quoted Iskander Akylbayey, a senior research fellow at the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies in Astana, that there are concerns about how well India and Pakistan will cooperate with one another, but counter-terrorism cooperation within the SCO is possible.

Peace Mission 2007 was the first military exercise the SCO conducted and took place in the southern Ural. All members of the SCO had there militaries partake in the 9 days of exercises, which focused on counter-terror operations.

Peace Mission 2007 included soldiers 2,000 from Russia, 1,700 from China, a special police unit from Kyrgyzstan, a small company-size unit from Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, and 20 military officers from Uzbekistan. 500 combat vehicles as well as 80 combat aircrafts from China and Russia were deployed, the report stated.

The report quoted Meena Singh Roy saying, a senior fellow at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis, the dominance of China and Russia was clearly seen in Peace Mission 2007.

If India and Pakistan join the SCO it will transform it, no longer will it be considered dominated by China and Russia. Instead it will be much more representative as well as the largest regional organization in the world, the report said.

Sharif reportedly conveyed that a meeting would be useful between India and Pakistan, but only if ends the hostility against the people of Kashmir. Many believe that this form of ultimatum could be a non-starter, the Indian Express reported.

One of the biggest advantages for the SCO is that India is fully ready to work with RATS, the report said. India has been an observer country of the since 2005, and applied for membership in 2014.

The SCO is a Eurasian political, economic and military organization, and was established in 2001 by leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The India Express reported that Modi and Nursultan Nazarbayev will meet on Thursday. A meeting between Modi and Xi Jinping is being worked on to take place during this time, and will be the first the two do so after the Belt and Road Initiative summit last month which India boycotted.

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