Differences aside, India and Pakistan will be participating together in an international counter-terrorism military exercise held in Russia this September by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO); this has never happened ever before. Finally coming together, it is a good sign indeed.

Indian Foreign Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made an agreement during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Defence Ministers’ meetings under which, New Delhi will be participating in the multi-national joint military exercise among Asian countries, being held in Russia in September. This is the first time that both rival neighbouring nations – India and Pakistan will be participating in the same military exercise. Optimistically speaking, this can be a sign of sowing seeds of better relations between India and Pakistan – it shows that the rivals are finally able to bear each other in the same room and they are finally coming together.

However, logically there is a reason for why India and Pakistan have agreed to take part in join military exercise together. From Indian side, the military exercise held in Russia will include Asian superpowers like China and Russia – and India needs to stay by the side of its Asian allies. Especially when Pakistan is getting closer to Russia through Russian joint military exercises last year and China and Pakistan’s joint air force training exercises around the same time. These moves from Pakistan and both Russia and China sends out New Delhi a clear message that it needs to be more interactive and involving if India wants to be an ally. And not just on political level, but also in military terms. This is why India formalised the agreement on military exercise – even if it means working with Pakistan – however briefly it is – so be it.

Another very important reason is that participation alongside Pakistan will show that India is willing to work together for common good – henceforth helping it get off the image of “aggressive” nation, especially after the surgical strikes on Pakistan announced by the PM. Besides continental reasons, India has deeper benefits – because a powerful SCO exercise will mean a powerful continental association which can counterweight NATO. And for India, participation in such powerful body will help the country secure a permanent seat in the UNSC. Regardless of all national-interests, the cooperation among Asian countries should be seen as a positive thing and it will benefit every participant in some way or the other.

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