ISLAMABAD - A joint military exercise between China and Pakistan is on the cards, whose modalities are being finalised in the ongoing visit of Pakistan's military chief to the neighbouring state, it is learnt on Monday.
The reported development follows top-level meetings between Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and the Chinese political and military leadership. This is Kayani's last visit to China in his incumbent capacity as the COAS, ahead of his upcoming retirement on November 29.
Although the military sources insist General Kayani's visit was scheduled well in advance, the event takes place conspicuously at a time when Indian and Russian armies are conducting a joint military exercise in the Indian desert of Rajhastan near Pak-India border. 'Gang Neva,' the exercise, is named after Indian river Ganga and Russian river Neva.
Some sections of Indian media say India plans to lay 14 strategic railway lines close to borders with China and Pakistan, as part of its preparations to meet security challenges emanating from the two borders.
Regarding General Kayani's visit, the military insiders at General Headquarters (GHQ) confirmed that drafting a timeline for the fifth 'Pak-China Friendship' exercise or YOUYI-V was high on the agenda. The exercise is expected to be held in China in coming months, the officials said. The previous Sino-Pak joint military exercise YOUYI-IV was held in Pakistan in November 2011 while YOUYI-III was held in China in the year 2010.
"This exercise would aim at enhancing the combat operational strength of the two forces and exchange of professional notes in realtime environment," a senior army officer said.
The Pakistani COAS, he said, met with his Chinese counterpart General Fang Fenghui on Monday and is scheduled to meet Chief of General Staff of Chinese Armed Forces Kao Kuang-chi, soon.
He would also be meeting the top management of the China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC), the country's premier strategic and scientific body, led by Yin Liming, in addition to meeting top Chinese military command and political leadership.
Continuing with Pakistan's traditional China-friendly policy, General Kayani, Pakistan's longest serving army chief in civilian rule, had a role in the signing of a number of Sino-Pak strategic pacts and defence agreements. His latest visit to China, a few weeks prior to retirement, is widely deciphered against the backdrop of enhanced strategic cooperation between India and Russia, which coincides with deteriorating security situation at the Line of Control (LoC) and Eastern Pak-India borders.
Apart from China, the conduct of joint military exercises with Turkey, Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia, the countries that are included in the military establishment-coined terminology of 'friendly states,' is also under reported consideration.
Earlier this year, Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Air Force had carried out joint naval and air exercises respectively with Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Pakistan Army had last conducted military exercises with Saudi Arabia and Turkey in 2011 and with Sri Lanka, last year. In August this year, Turkey had hosted a joint military exercise held between Pakistan and Afghanistan armies.
Meanwhile, a press release said, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani held separate meetings with General Fan Changlong, Vice Chairman Central Military Commission and Guo Shengkun, State Councilor & Minister for Ministry of Public Security.
"The COAS reiterated goodwill of the government and people of Pakistan and thanked Chinese leadership for China's eternal support to Pakistan. Security situation in the region and the possible role both countries can play towards strategic stability was also discussed during the meetings. Talks also encompassed the measures to boost mutual cooperation on a wide range of issues," it said.