Saudi Arabia is the first foreign country whose forces are being trained at NCTC
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on Monday began two-week-long joint anti-terror exercises at the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) in Pabbi tehsil near Jhelum.
The joint exercises cod enamed al Shihab-1 will focus on the joint anti-terrorism training of the special forces of Islamabad and Riyadh, a statement issued by the army’s media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said.
“The exercise aims at affording an opportunity to explore new avenues of cooperation to fight terrorism and enhance skills,” the communiqué added.
Commander Mangla Corps Lieutenant General Umar Farooq Durrani witnessed the joint field training exercise and lauded their professionalism and hard work.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have longstanding defence and security cooperation and they held war-games in the past. But this is the first time the two countries are holding joint anti-terror training.
The development comes months after relations between Islamabad and Riyadh were strained over Pakistan’s refusal to join the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The oil-rich kingdom had sought both material and manpower for its campaign but Pakistan’s parliament voted against the demand causing an unusual hiccup in ties with the key Arab country.
But the participation of 57-member Saudi Special Forces contingent in joint anti-terror exercises suggests that relations between the two countries are gradually returning to normalcy. NCTC is Pakistan’s first state of the art facility with large capacity to impart quality training to troops for combating terrorism in all kinds of terrain.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2015.