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November 5, 2019

Pak diplomats attend SCOJtEx inaugural meeting in New Delhi

National

November 5, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Diplomats from Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi attended the inaugural meeting of the four-day Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Joint Exercise on Urban Earthquake Search and Rescue (SCOJtEx-2019) on Monday, in New Delhi.

Pakistan’s participation in an event is surprising as relations between the two neighbours is at an all-time low and in September had stayed away from a similar SCO meeting in New Delhi. Sources indicate that China and Russia have played a part behind the scene to ensure that Pakistan participated on an issue which is of regional and global significance.

Spokesman at Foreign Office when asked to confirm told The News, “Pakistan High Commission will attend”. Union Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah inaugurated the event.

Reports from New Delhi say that the main focus of the exercise shall be to test the region's preparedness and resilience towards effective activation of inter- governmental interaction for immediate response.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is hosting joint urban earthquake rescue for all eight SCO member countries, with the aim to rehearse the disaster response mechanism, share knowledge, experience, technology and also for mutual coordination.

"This exercise shall also provide an opportunity to enhance the coordination and cooperation involving multi-agency operations in an earthquake scenario," the ministry said in a statement.

The four-day long simulation exercise shall be held from November 4 to November 7 at Delhi. Participants from eight member countries - China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - will participate in this exercise.

The simulation exercise shall be conducted as per the International Search & Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) methodology and guidelines.

There will be a Joint Urban Earthquake Search and Rescue Exercise for member states followed by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation experts meeting from ministries responsible for Prevention and Elimination of Emergency Situation.

Besides, representatives from INSARAG, Asian Coordination Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA), Brazil, Mongolia and South Africa have been invited as observers.

Earlier on September 12, Pakistan had decided to remain absent from an SCO event when India hosted the first military cooperation event that India hosted under the SCO Defence Cooperation Plan 2019-2020 after it became a member state of the body in 2017.

The meet aimed to share best practices in the field of military medicine, build capacities and overcome common challenges. At the time the Indian media had reported, “This is an SCO meet. And Pakistan was invited as an SCO member, but it did not come,” said a senior officer in the Indian Army who didn’t wish to be named. He said that all invitations were extended through the SCO secretariat.

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