India plans Defence of Gujarat exercise in Arabian Sea near Pakistan's coastline

Post Uri attack, India boycotting the Saarc Summit is a strong diplomatic message to send to Pakistan. India on Tuesday announced that it was pulling out of the Islamabad summit in the wake of the 18 September cross-border terror attack on an Indian Army base in Uri town of Jammu and Kashmir, which New Delhi has blamed on terrorists based in Pakistan.

 India plans Defence of Gujarat exercise in Arabian Sea near Pakistans coastline

Representational image. Reuters

In a statement on Tuesday, India said increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and growing interference in the internal affairs of Saarc member-states "by one country" have created an environment that was not conducive to the successful holding of the 19th Saarc summit.

Pakistan, meanwhile, termed the boycott decision as "unfortunate".

Furthering this decision, perhaps in a show of strength, India is set to hold a naval exercise — the Defence of Gujarat Exercise (DGX) — in the Arabian Sea near Pakistan's coastline, reports The Economic Times. Around 36 warships and submarines along with Indian Air Force aircraft are said to take part in this show of strength in Arabian Sea, which is reportedly Pakistan's main trading route via sea. According to defence ministry officials, this naval exercise can become another important message that India sends to Pakistan.

The Defence of Gujarat Exercise is a counter-terror activity, which takes place annually, to keep checks on India's littoral readiness and surveillance measures to prevent 26/11-type terror attacks, reported The Hindu.

Earlier, in 2013, India's maritime forces carried out the same exercise in the Arabian Sea off Gujarat and Maharashtra where it employed "massive warships, naval planes and unmanned aerial vehicles", reported The New Indian Express. A week-long exercise, it was carried out to test the preparedness of the Western Naval Command in coastal combat and defence of offshore assets, according to the Navy quoted by the report.

This year's exercise is set to include fighter, reconnaissance and patrol aircraft along with IAF’s maritime role Jaguars and Su-30 MKIs, and the Navy’s reconnaissance and patrol aircraft, in addition to unmanned aerial vehicles, reported The Economic Times.

The exercise comes at a time when the two countries' relations have further deteriorated — at the United Nations General Assembly, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj slammed Pakistan, calling Kashmir "an integral part of India". She added that when Pakistan was confronted with evidence of terrorism, the country "remains in denial". She also offered a sharp rebuke to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that the attacks on Pathankot and Uri were proof of Pakistan’s complicity in terrorism.

With inputs from IANS

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Updated Date: Sep 29, 2016 13:13:36 IST