RIYADH – Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi arrived in Saudi Arabia on Sunday on a two-day visit to witness the closing ceremony of the 24-country joint military exercise.

Flanked by Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir, the premier was received by Dammam Governor Prince Saud bin Nayef at the King Abdulaziz Air Force Base at Al Khobar.

The civil-military bigwigs would be joining other leaders at the concluding ceremony of month-long exercise titled ‘Gulf Shield-1’ which aims at strengthening military and security cooperation and coordination among the regional countries.

Troops of the Pakistan Army, Pakistan Air Force C-130 aircraft, JF-17 Thunder Fighter jets, Pakistan Navy ships, and commandos from Special Services Group are participating in the exercise, believed to be the largest military drill considering the diversity of troops, weapon systems and operational manoeuvring.

The spokesman for Joint Gulf Shield-1, Brig Gen Abdullah Al-Subaie told a news conference that the exercise featured two types of military operations; conventional military operations and irregular war operations.

The spokesman revealed that the most important aspect of the exercise was to activate the concept of joint military combat operational plans to resist acts that threaten the security and stability of the region.

The drills also displayed military uniformity among the participating countries, in addition to the development of a sense of collective security, unity and common destiny, the spokesman added.

The civil and military chiefs are visiting Saudi Arabia for the first time after Pakistan dispatched troops to the Holy Kingdom to train Saudi military forces, two months ago.

The Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) is a willing coalition of 41 countries, sans Iran that forms a pan-Islamic unified front in the global fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

The IMCTC is led by former Pakistani military chief General (r) Raheel Sharif, who is currently in Lahore for the wedding ceremony of his son.