Speaking to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Russia Kazi Khalilullah stated that Pakistan will participate in the multi-lateral Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) exercise ‘Peace Mission 2018’ in September.
Khalilullah stated: “I understand that the exercise ‘Peace Mission-2018’ is being conducted under the auspices of the SCO, Pakistan attaches importance to SCO events, and we took part in the first round of expert talks related to the exercises, which were held in Yekaterinburg in November 2017. We intend to participate in the exercises this year.”
The SCO is a permanent intergovernmental organization concerning Central Asia and its surrounding regions aimed at cultivating multilateral cooperation in many areas, including trade, energy, education, tourism and others.. Pakistan and India are the latest entrants to the eight-member SCO, having officially joined the body as full-members in June 2017.
Peace Mission is a biennially-held counter-terrorism exercise involving each SCO member. In 2016, it was held in Kyrgyzstan. Its purpose is to examine the coordination and combat readiness of SCO members for joint counter-terrorism operations.
Pakistan and Russia held their first bilateral military exercise in 2016 in Pakistan. Designated ‘Friendship’, the exercise had drawn upon the respective special forces units of each country for exchanging insights and building capacity for counter-terrorism operations. This was followed by Friendship 2017 in Russia.
As per Khalilullah (via RIA Novosti), Pakistan’s Minister of Defence, Khurram Dastgir Khan, will also visit Moscow in April to participate in the Seventh Moscow Conference on International Security.
Pakistani officials, among them Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan and Pakistan Air Force Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, have also iterated on different occasions of engaging Russia for the supply of conventional armaments. Thus far, the only notable order to have come from the thaw in relations is four Mi-35M from Russian Helicopters in 2015.