Sino-Pakistani drill not targeted at India

Updated: 2011-11-09 09:44

(China Daily)

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New Delhi media get into frenzy over joint anti-terrorism exercise

BEIJING - The Ministry of National Defense on Tuesday dismissed Indian reports that China and Pakistan are holding a joint military exercise to put pressure on New Delhi, and said the anti-terror drill is not targeted at any third country.

"According to the annual exchange plan between China and Pakistan's militaries, the two armies will hold the 'Friendship 2011' joint anti-terror exercise near Islamabad," the Information Office of the Ministry of National Defense told China Daily.

"This is the first joint drill of the two armies this year and is not targeted at any third nation. It is aimed at enhancing the capability of the two militaries to handle non-traditional security threats and launch joint anti-terror activities," the office said in a written reply.

A report in the Times of India on Saturday said China will hold a drill with Pakistan "at the international border", which it said is "the second joint desert war game in this area within three months".

"China is believed to be once again trying to put pressure on India through the Pakistani border adjoining Rajasthan," the report quoted intelligence sources as saying.

The two-week exercise will begin on Nov 16, it said.

The report said China is extending strategic help to Pakistan in every way. "China is not only providing arms but is also helping upgrade Pakistan's tank, weapons, UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles), ammunition etc."

It claimed that the presence of the Chinese army has "reached the desert areas of opposite Rajasthan on the Pakistani border, which is dangerous for India".

"Some speculate it could be a far-sighted conspiracy of China to surround India from all the four sides. It is to be noted that a large number of Chinese experts are in desert areas in (the) name of oil and gas exploration in Pakistan. This area is just 1 to 3 kilometers from the international border," said the report.

Fu Xiaoqiang, an expert on South Asian studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said the report was groundless and accused the Indian media of basing such reports on "hearsay evidence".

"They always wear blinkers to examine China's cooperation with Pakistan. For example, we all know there are many Chinese experts and engineers in Pakistan working on large projects. It is the Indian media who linked that with security issues," he said.

Premier Wen Jiabao suggested that the Indian media should stop overplaying security issues and make more positive efforts to improve bilateral relations, when he visited the country late last year.

The premier said that, in recent years, there has been no conflict in the China-India border area. "But the border issue has been hyped as a rather serious problem."