The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)’s ant-terror military exercise titled “Peace Mission 2018” was recently held in Chebarkul, Russia from 24-29 August. Military contingents of all eight SCO member nations: China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, India and Pakistan participated. Held biennially, Peace Mission exercises are aimed at enhancing cooperation between member states to deal with the growing threat of terrorism and extremism. The previous editions of this exercise were limited to Central Asian nations. But due to the entry of India and Pakistan (in June 2017), SCO’s counter-terrorism mission now has been expanded to South Asia. What made Peace Mission-2018 unique was that Pakistan and India-adversaries since their independence in 1947; having faced each other in three wars. Having been on the brink of armed conflict on numerous occasions- they were co-participants in a war game for the first time. The air forces of Pakistan and India have taken part in Red Flag and Green Flag exercises hosted by the US, while the two rival neighbouring countries had earlier worked together in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions. However, this is the first occasion for the two armies to cooperate in a military exercise. The scope of the exercise included professional interaction, mutual understanding of drills and procedures, establishment of joint command and control structures and elimination of terrorist threats in urban counter terrorist scenarios. It was aimed at building mutual confidence, interoperability and enabling sharing of best practices among armed forces of the SCO nations. Set in the Urals, around 3,000 soldiers and 500 pieces of weapon systems from the eight SCO member countries completed redeployment and force concentration at the Chebarkul training ground, set up a camp site, serviced weaponry and military hardware and conducted several joint command-and-control trainings, including live firing and the employment of aviation and artillery, counter-terror command and staff drills. The counter-terrorism maneuvers involved military governance bodies, land troops and aviation complement. Russian Army was the major participant with 1,700 personnel followed by China with 748, India with 200 (167 Indian Army personnel including four women officers and 33 personnel from Indian Air Force). The Pakistani contingent comprised of 110 members. Ironically, both India and Pakistan trade barbs over accusations of sponsoring terrorism in each other’s territory. Pakistan believes and is ready to provide evidence of India backing the insurgency in Balochistan, Karachi and the tribal belt. The arrest of senior RAW operative Commander Kulbushan Jadhav from Balochistan in 2016 is the smoking gun Pakistan had been looking for Ironically, both India and Pakistan trade barbs over accusations of sponsoring terrorism in each other’s territory. Pakistan believes and is ready to provide evidence of India backing the insurgency in Balochistan, Karachi and the tribal belt. The arrest of senior RAW operative Commander Kulbushan Jadhav from Balochistan in 2016 is the smoking gun Pakistan had been looking for. Contrarily, India has been reproachful of Pakistan’s alleged role in the 2001 Indian Parliament building attack; the 2008 Mumbai Attacks and numerous terror assaults at Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Machil, Uri and other locations. Pakistan believes all these were false flag operations, carefully orchestrated to blame Pakistan and bring international pressure on it as well as to divert attention from the atrocities wreaked on Kashmiris by Indian forces. Interestingly, India claims that after the Uri attack, it carried out “surgical strikes” to take punitive action against Pakistan. ISPR, the Pakistan Army’s publicity machine, has denied that the attack ever took place and claimed that it was a figment of the Indian government’s imagination, meant to appease domestic audiences, who were baying for blood following the Uri attack. Indian media had built such a frenzy blaming Pakistan that Indian masses demanded severe retaliation. The move backfired for India, since in the absence of credible evidence, Indian masses and media saw through the bluff. “Peace Mission 2018” organised under the aegis of SCO, whose main objective is military cooperation between the members, works towards intelligence-sharing, counter-terrorism operations in Central and now also South Asia. The prime security-related concern of the region is threats emanating from terrorism, separatism and extremism. The Chinese Foreign Office Spokesperson, Hua Chunying, addressing her Regular Press Conference on August 27, 2018, was asked about the maiden participation of Indian and Pakistani militaries. Her response was that both Pakistan and India are important countries in South Asia. A stable Pakistan-India relationship is of great significance to the peace and stability of the region and the peace and development of the world at large. She reiterated that China sincerely hopes that the two countries can strengthen dialogue and cooperation between them and within such multilateral mechanisms as the SCO, improve their relations and jointly uphold regional peace and stability. While officials from the defence ministries of Pakistan and India have acknowledged their belief that the two sides can learn from each other and the multi-nation exercise provides a unique opportunity for them to exchange experience, SCO can be the ideal platform to encourage dialogue for peace between the erstwhile hostile neighbours although its charter does not call for arbitration on bilateral issues. The writer is a retired Group Captain of PAF. He is a columnist, analyst and TV talk show host, who has authored six books on current affairs, including three on China Published in Daily Times, September 1st 2018.