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India and Nepal to commence joint military exercises


India and Nepal to commence joint military exercises

Photo: IANS

The 15th India-Nepal joint military exercise Surya Kiran will begin today in the Himalayan border town of Pithoragarh, India.

The approximately 48-hour exercise will see the participation of at least an infantry battalion from each country’s national army. The purpose of the drills is to improve inter-operability with regard to counter-insurgency operations in mountainous terrain. The exercise will also feature academic discussions on subjects ranging from humanitarian disaster relief to high altitude and jungle warfare.

While Surya Kiran 2021 is likely a response to greater regional security threats posed to India and its ally Nepal—particularly from China and Pakistan—the counter-insurgency focus of the drills this year is indicative of anxiety over the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. The Taliban’s governing cabinet is heavily represented by a faction known as the Haqqanis who have particularly close ties to Pakistan—vis-à-vis the notorious terrorist outfit, the Haqqani Network—and strongly believe in the concept of Global Jihad.

To New Delhi and Kathmandu the threat of Pakistan as a base of operations for terrorist attacks against critical infrastructure and civilian and military targets is a real one. As such, the drills have an additional purpose of deterrence and bilateral preparation for potential counterterrorism operations.

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