Kathmandu/Pune: The Nepal Army has withdrawn from the first BIMSTEC military exercise to be held in Pune following a political row in the country over the participation in the event. Three observers from Nepal who have already arrived, will be present in civil dress and not military uniform, officials said.
Nepal Prime Minister KP Oli asked the national defence force not to participate in the drill, compelling the Nepal Army’s leadership to roll back its earlier decision to take part in the first ever military exercise of the regional grouping initiated by India.
The decision was taken just a day before the Army squad was set to travel to Pune, where the drill will commence on Monday. The government’s decision came after strong criticism from different quarters, including influential leaders from ruling Nepal Communist Party, news agency PTI reported.
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional grouping comprising Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal. Continued on P2
The armies from all seven members states had agreed to send a 30-member squad for the six-day exercise. The event was dragged into controversy as no diplomatic or political level agreement was made before deciding to take part in the exercise.
Meanwhile, Army officials from Southern Command said that except Nepal personnel and officers, remaining countries have arrived. The inaugural edition of the BIMSTEC field training military exercise called MILEX-18 is being organised from September 10 to 16 at the foreign training node at Aundh military station here.
The core theme of this military exercise is counter-terrorism in a semi-urban backdrop. Platoon sized contingents of the national armies of the BIMSTEC nations will participate in this week-long training exercise. Five officers and 25 junior commissioned officers and other ranks from participating countries have come here for the exercise. Thailand has sent only its observers due to certain prior commitments.
In addition to the military exercise, an initiative of our Chief of the Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat, an inaugural ‘Chief’s Conclave’ is also being organised at College of Military Engineering, Kirkee, on September 15, under the aegis of Headquarters Southern Command.
The chiefs of the Army of the member nations of BIMSTEC will be attending the conclave. However, Nepal Army chief will not come, officials said.