India’s Armed Forces Special Operations Division (AFSOD) are undertaking military exercises near the Pakistan border in a move led by Major General Ashok Dhingra, the first chief of the commando force. Drills took place over the weekend and will continue to do so in future regardless of the strain between the two countries’ relationship, which has gone from bad to worse in recent months. The creation of the AFSOD came amid rising tensions following series of terror strikes since 2016.
The Indian government’s Committee on Defence Management had recommended the establishment of such a force in 2012.
Tensions in the region were upped another notch this month, when US President Donald Trump was blasted by Pakistan for his interference in the countries’ bilateral relations.
He was urged to step in and diffuse the situation after being told to but out previously over the weekend.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Quereshi asked the US President to intervene over the disputed region of Kashmir with the two nuclear powers currently “eyeball to eyeball”.
And, responding to Mr Trump’s remark that he hoped the two countries could “come together” to work out a solution, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan likewise urged the President himself to get involved directly instead.
Questioned about the possibility of India and Pakistan finding a way of settling their differences among themselves, Mr Quereshi told Newsweek: “I think we’ve come to the conclusion after one year of continuously trying that it is pointless.
“After these actions I do not see any bilateral movement, the only way this issue can be resolved is through third-party facilitation.
“President Trump can play a role, he has a lot of influence over them and the Security Council, which is responsible for peace and security, can play a role.”
Relations between the two neighbours and traditional rivals have been deteriorating steadily this year, ever since a terror attack by militants in the disputed Kashmir region left 44 Indian paramilitary police dead.
In response, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi order an air strike on a camp run by militant organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed which New Dehli claimed killed 300 people, although Islamabad denied this.
Days later Pakistan shot down shot down two Indian jets, parading captured pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman on television before handing him back to the Indian authorities “as a goodwill gesture”.
More recently, Mr Modi upped the stakes by revoking Article 370, the section of the Indian constitution which guarantees special status to Kashmir and neighbouring Jammu, with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan calling it a “historic blunder”.
Speaking on Monday, Mr Trump said he hoped India and Pakistan could come together to resolve their differences over Kashmir.
Mr Trump and Mr Khan met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
The US President also met Mr Modi late last week.