PM Abbasi attends 24-country military drill in KSA

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ALJUBAIL: Prime Minister (PM) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi along with several other world leaders on Monday witnessed a grand closing ceremony of an unprecedented 24-country military exercise named Gulf Shield-1.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz received the leaders, defence and foreign ministers, and heads of different armed forces at the event, held in the desert around 140 kilometres north-east of Dammam.

PM Abbasi on also held a meeting with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud during the closing ceremony of Gulf Shield-1 in which matters pertaining to regional security and mutual interest were discussed.

Apart from PM Abbasi, Minister for Defence Khurram Dastgir Khan, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and senior officials of the three services witnessed the ceremony. Pakistan’s Ambassador to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) Vice Admiral (r) Khan Hasham Bin Saddique, Islamic Military Counter-Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) head General (r) Raheel Sharif also witnessed the event.

The joint tri-services exercise held along the east coast of Saudi Arabia under the eastern command of Royal Saudi Land Forces was designed to boost coordination and provide a hands-on experience of working together to achieve common objectives. The Saudi defence ministry described Gulf Shield-1 drill as “a turning point in terms of the techniques used in accordance with the most modern military systems in the world.”

The exercise concluded with an impressive show full of fire and fury. The troops demonstrated their skills in coordinated attacks using air, ground and naval forces.

The JF-17 fighters of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) pounded the targets to soften up. It was followed by an assault of ground forces in armoured personnel carriers and air cover of the deadly Apache gunships.

The firepower show culminated with a parade of troops from participating countries and a display of guns, weapon systems, long-range artillery and missiles used by the Saudi and other regional forces, and a flypast. The king later had a group photograph with the heads of visiting delegations and then hosted a luncheon in their honour.

The leaders who attended the ceremony included Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Haseena Wajid and presidents of Mali, Chad, and Burkina Faso

Troops of Pakistan Army, Pakistan Air Force C-130, JF-17 Thunder Fighter Jets, Pakistan Navy Ships, and commandos from Special Services Group participated in the exercise.

The countries participating with troops include those from Pakistan, Sudan, Djibouti, Egypt, UAE, Chad, Guinea, Bahrain, Malaysia, Mauritania, Jordan, Gambia and Kuwait. The countries participating as observers are Bangladesh, Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, USA, UK, Comoron Islands, Oman and Niger.

Pakistan Navy vessels PNS Tipu Sultan, PNS Himmat and Maritime Security Ship Basool participated in the exercise at the Arabian Gulf.