Pakistan, Saudi Arabia hold first joint anti-terror exercises

LAHORE, Pakistan: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on Monday began their first joint counter-terrorism exercises near Kharian, a city in Punjab’s Gujrat district.

The ‘Al-Shahab-I Counter-Terrorism Exercises’ will continue for 12 days at the National Counter-terrorism Training Centre (NCTC) near Kharian, and in which 57 Saudi military personnel are taking part.

The exercises which are being observed by senior officers from both sides provides an insight into the defence cooperation between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Earlier in a statement, the Director General Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa said that joint military exercises between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are part of normal routine.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia annually hold joint military exercises; however, this is first time that they are holding drills which are aimed at boosting the anti-terror cooperation and taking benefit from each other’s experience and expertise.

The contingent of Saudi military personnel arrived in Pakistan to participate in the joint anti-terror drills when the Saudi-led regional coalition has been targeting the Shia-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen since March.

Pakistan though expressed reluctance to actively take part in the Saudi operation in Yemen despite Riyadh’s request, but Islamabad is providing moral support to Saudi efforts which the later deemed necessary for its defence and security.

In recent times, Saudi Arabia saw terror acts on its territory as well, raising serious concerns for the Kingdom about terrorism which Pakistan has long been dealing with.

Last Friday, the militant outfit ‘Islamic State’ killed five Saudis in eastern al-Qatif province. Later, Pakistan strongly condemned the terrorist attack on Saudi soil and reaffirmed its full support to the Kingdom.