Originally Published 2004-09-27 09:15:14 Published on Sep 27, 2004
Pakistan¿s port city of Karachi has been buzzing with military activity beginning September 2004. There have been two important events: first the inauguration by President Musharraf of the third IDEAS-2004 defence exhibition at the Expo Centre, Karachi.
Selling Arms for buying Peace
Pakistan's port city of Karachi has been buzzing with military activity beginning September 2004. There have been two important events: first the inauguration by President Musharraf of the third IDEAS-2004 defence exhibition at the Expo Centre, Karachi. While inaugurating IDEAS-2004, the Pakistan President noted, "Our arms are for peace". He further said that Pakistan had adopted the strategy of 'defensive deterrence' to maintain 'conventional and unconventional balance of forces' to guarantee peace in the region. The second event was the launching ceremony of Fast Attack Missile Craft #146;Quwwat#146; at Karachi Shipyard &amp; Engineering Works (KSEW). According to Admiral Shahid Karimullah, Chief of the Naval Staff, " the, Pakistan Navy has achieved yet another milestone in the indigenous construction of naval platform and has made a quantum leap towards self-reliance in building missile crafts by utilizing indigenous resources."&nbsp; <br /> <br /> IDEAS defence exhibitions have come to serve as a platform for showcasing Pakistan's growing military industrial complex. In the past, Pakistan has hosted two such exhibitions. Interestingly, the Pakistan Navy, the smaller of the two services, was the first to introduce the idea of defence exhibitions in Pakistan and held a Naval Show in Karachi in 1998. This was primarily due to its earlier participations in international maritime exhibitions in the Persian Gulf and South East Asia. It was against this background that in 1999, the Joint Chief of Staff Committee under General Pervez Musharraf decided to host International Defence Exhibitions and Seminar (IDEAS).&nbsp; <br /> <br /> The first IDEAS was held in December 2000 and was conducted on commercial lines with participation by Export Promotion Bureau (EPB). In June 2001, Pakistan established the Defence Export Promotion Organization (DEPO) with the primary aim of boosting exports. DEPO began with a small budget provided by the military and some major public sector defence manufacturing establishments. <br /> <br /> It has formulated a plan to increase the volume of Pakistan defence products#146; exports to $500 million in five years from the present mark of $147 million. Major international participants at the IDEAS-2004 exhibition included companies from Austria, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malaysia, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Thailand, The Netherlands, Turkey, UAE, UK, Ukraine and USA.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> Among the several military and civil delegations for IDEAS 2004 that called on the Pakistani President, the Chinese and the Malaysian delegations need special mention. Hu Ya Feng, Deputy Secretary General COSTIND, led the four member Chinese delegation. China has emerged as an important source of Pakistan military inventory both nuclear and conventional. In 1990, Pakistan and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a ten-year defence co-operation. <br /> In the naval domain, Pakistan Navy acquired the Fuquing class tanker, Hola and Hegu class missile boats, C-802 SSMs for the Jalalat class fast attack craft and the LY 60 (N) surface-to-air missile system for the British-built Type 21 frigates. In 1992-93, Pakistan government sanctioned $ US 700-800 million for Chinese origin F-22 frigates as against an earlier proposal for acquiring the South Korean HDF-2000 frigate In June 2004, both countries formally signed the agreement for the supply of four Chinese F-22P frigates.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> One or two of these frigates would be built in China, while the rest in Pakistan. Pakistan Navy would also buy anti-submarine helicopters from China. Chinese is also assisting Pakistan in developing and constructing the Gwadar deep-sea port (GDSP). The foundation stone of the GDSP was jointly laid in March 2002 by President Pervez Musharraf and the visiting Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Bangguo . The first phase of the project would be completed in three years at a cost of US $248 million of which US $198 million would be contributed by China.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> In October 2003, the Chinese and Pakistani navies engaged in a joint naval exercise off Shanghai. According to the Chinese, these exercises were the first with any foreign country and the Pakistani's described the event as another milestone in the long-standing bilateral cooperation of the two countries in the defence sector.&nbsp; <br /> The Pakistani naval ship, Babur , a destroyer and the ocean going tanker Nasar (Chinese built) had visited Lakgkawai, Malaysia to participate in the LIMA2003 (Langkawi International Maritime and Air show). There are several Malaysian officers undergoing military training courses in Pakistan. In March 2003, Pakistan participated in the International Defense Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and the French Agosta 90B submarine built at the KSEW was on display. <br /> <br /> Pakistan is steadily but surely expanding ties in South Asia and Southeast Asia particularly with Islamic countries. The economic and political isolation due to its nuclear tests in 1998, its role in triggering the Kargil conflict, and Musharraf#146;s 1999 bloodless coup are events of the past. It is courting Myanmar and Bangladesh. Interestingly, Pakistan Navy was the first foreign navy to pay a visit to Myanmar. Bangladesh is contemplating to purchase a second hand submarine from Pakistan. Importantly, countries like Myanmar, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei will emerge as a strong staging post for the eastward Pakistani expansion to offer a strategic leverage in dealing with India.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> <strong>Vijay Sakhuja is Research Fellow, ORF Institute of Security Studies.</strong> <br /> <br /> Courtesy Sahara Time, New Delhi, October 2, 2004 <br /> <br /> <em>* Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Observer Research Foundation.</em>
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