ISLAMABAD: Pakistani and Saudi special forces will begin 12-day counter-terrorism exercises on Monday.

The exercises, codenamed Al-Shahab I, will be held at the National Counter-terrorism Training Centre (NCTC), near Kharian.

A contingent of 57 Saudi personnel arrived here on Saturday to take part in the exercises which would conclude on Oct 31.

This is the first time that the two countries are holding joint counter-terrorism exercises. But they have in the past participated in joint military war games, called Al-Samsam.

It is also for the first time that troops of a foreign country will be taking part in a drill at the newly established NCTC.

The army describes NCTC as a modern facility “with large capacity to impart quality training to troops for combating terrorism in all kinds of terrain” and says it caters to local requirements as well as training requests of friendly armies.

The joint counter-terrorism drill, which would be observed by senior officers from both the sides, provides an insight into the defence cooperation between the two countries.

Saudi Arabia has been facing a severe terrorist threat at home from groups like Al Qaeda and the self-styled Islamic State.

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2015

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