India, Pakistan Joint Military Drills In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Still In A Limbo — Reports

Pakistan has not decided yet to invite India to join the anti-terror military exercise scheduled to be held later this year, according to reports. 

“Pakistan has not yet made any decision to invite Indian troops to take part in the military exercise,” an unnamed military official told the Pakistani newspaper Dawn on Thursday.

The official further said that the Indian media is “overplaying” the decisions made on March 18 at Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure in Tashkent. The Indian Army, on Friday, confirmed that no official invitation from Islamabad had arrived yet.

Pakistan will hold ‘Pabbi-Antiterror-21’ exercise under the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at its National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) in Pabbi in the Nowshera district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

There has been speculation that India, as an active member of the SCO, would take part in the exercises. While the participation in the Pakistan-led exercise is not yet confirmed, India will indeed join another SCO military exercise to be held in Russia in late 2021.

“…the honor to hold such an exercise has been given to the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), and the elite units of several countries, including Russia and China and SCO members, are participating in it,” the Pakistan military official cited above told reporters.

The Dawn report also quoted another “top military official” as saying that Pakistan is unlikely to invite India for the exercises.

India-Pakistan ties

Bitter rivals India and Pakistan have been attempting to mend their ties for the past month. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently written to his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan, wishing him on the occasion of ‘Pakistan Day’ (March 23).

Modi’s letter came almost a month after the armies of the two nations agreed to maintain a ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC), their de facto border in Jammu and Kashmir.

Before Modi’s letter, Khan himself had expressed the desire to have good relations with India but stressed New Delhi will have to take the first initiative.

Pakistan’s Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, had also called for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue.

“We feel it is time to bury the past and move forward,” Bajwa had said at a news conference in Islamabad.