RIYADH - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif along with leaders of other countries, observed the world’s biggest military exercises “North Thunder” at Hafarul Batin city of Saudi Arabia yesterday.

The leaders of many countries attended the closing ceremony along with Khadim al Harmain al Sharifain King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saud. Air drops, armour movement and air assault through helicopters were performed by the troops taking part in the exercises. Live fire by tanks was also demonstrated.

Pakistani troops were part of the show in the closing ceremony, which performed air drops and air assault.

Warplanes roared overhead, tanks rumbled across the desert and smoke filled the sky during the final stage of what Saudi Arabia called as the region’s biggest-ever military exercises.

About 20 nations from Middle East, Africa and Asia took part in the last day of the “North Thunder” manoeuvres in the desert north of the kingdom, which began 12 days ago.

Regional leaders, including Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif joined Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to attend the conclusion, the official Saudi Press Agency said. Taking place near the Kuwaiti and Iraq borders, the manoeuvres were the most important and largest in the region’s history, according to Saudi authorities.

A two-hour mock battle featuring fighter jets, attack helicopters and tanks was among the final events of the exercises which Saudi Arabia described as a show of regional unity.

Riyadh has adopted a more assertive foreign policy since Salman took the throne early last year following the death of his half-brother king Abdullah.

It is leading a mainly Arab coalition fighting rebels in Yemen, taking part in US-led air strikes against the Islamic State group and has offered to send special forces to fight IS in Syria.

“North Thunder” is also taking place after tensions escalated between Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia and its regional Shiite rival Iran that are backing opposing sides in Syria and Yemen. The authorities have released few details of the extent of the exercises. But Saudi Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri told reporters this week they were preparing to tackle the region’s “terrorist menace” and not directed against Iran.


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saud of Saudi Arabia in Royal Palace of King Khalid military city.

Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif and Special Assistant to PM on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi accompanied the Prime Minister in the meeting.

Earlier, showing a very pleasant gesture, Saudi Defence Minister Prince Muhammad bin Salman arrived at the Prime Minister's guest house to take him to the Palace for meeting with King Salman.

Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif met Defence Minister of Saudi Arabia Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, Director General Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Lt General Asim Saleem Bajwa said in tweet message from Saudi Arabia.

"After day-long Military Exercise in desert, the COAS and Defence Minister of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia met at Defence Minister Field Office. Regional security, bilateral military relations discussed," the tweet read.