International Recognition of the Defense Production Capability of Pakistan

By Sajjad Shaukat

Since May 28, 1998 when Pakistan became nuclear power, defence analysts had been opining that if a war erupted between India and Pakistan, the latter will be the first to use atomic weapons, as comparatively, it lacks conventional arms including their quality in modern terms.

But, now, defence production capability of Pakistan has overcome this problem. Besides production, superiority of Pakistan’s defence related products has been recognized internationally, especially by India.

In this regard, the webiste DepoGovtPK.Com wrote: “During the colonial rule, sixteen ordnance factories were established in the sub-continent. After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, all those sixteen factories fell to Indian share since none of them was located i n the areas forming Pakistan. Thus, Pakistan emerged with a fragile state apparatus and rudimentary Armed Forces with no infrastructure for arms, equipment or ammunition manufacturing facility, to meet the security challenges. Defence Production activities in Pakistan started in 1951 with the establishment of Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) at Wah…With the passage of time, development in technology and resources, the defence and aviation industry infrastructure has grown to an extent where the Public and Private organizations can meet the requirement of Pakistan Defence Forces very efficiently. Today, there are over 20 major Public Sector Organizations and over 100 Private Sector firms engaged in the manufacturing of defence related products, which are internationally recognized for quality, reliability and competitive prices. The Private firms have achieved an accelerated development in the manufacturing capabilities, facilities and capacities to augment Public Sector for indigenous production, using the latest technological tools.”

According to the website, Army Recognition.Com, “Pakistan’s defence production sector has the capability of manufacturing up to 50 battle tanks annually whereas 1,598 sophisticated guns are being manufactured in the Pakistani ammunition factories…The heads of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Kamra, Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) Wah Cantonment, heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) and Karachi Shipyard appeared before the Senate’s Standing Committee on Defence Production to give briefings on Pakistan’s defence production capability said on January 28, 2014. The officials said that over 100 armed vehicles or personnel carriers had been manufactured at HIT whereas (with the copperation of China) manufacturing of Al Khalid main battle tanks and JF-17 Thunder (fighter Jets) in significant number were also under way…Pakistan’s defence exports could improve manifolds and the indigenous requirements could be fully met as well.”

It is notable that addressing the members of Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) on February 2, 2016, the DG of Defense Export Promotion Organization Major General Agha Masood Akram pointed out: “Defence production industry of Pakistan has made momentous technological and innovative advancement, enabling it to focus on the export of defense products…Pakistan has not only the ability to fulfill its domestic defence requirements but also cater needs of the world…. international community is surprised over the achievements made by Pakistan in the defence field.”
He elaborated: “DEPO is providing active support to our defense manufacturing/service sector and the export chain through facilitation, coordination and promotion for sustainable growth of defense exports”.

The LCCI Senior Vice President Almas Hyder said: “close linkage between Defence Export Promotion Organization (DEPO) and chambers of commerce will greatly help in engaging private sector in defence production…unlike other countries…Pakistan modifies its approach and involve private sector in defense production…the defense-growth nexus can lead us to attain better economic growth rate and help increase the exports of the country.”

It is of particular attention that even India has recognized the defence production capability of Pakistan and superior quality of arms and weapons, produced by Pakistan’s defence industries.

In this connection in the Indian Defence Review-Issue Excerpt: Asian Strategy and Military Perspective, Dated 30, 2014, under the title “Defence Industry of Pakistan”, RSN Singh wrote: “After partition, Pakistan did not inherit any military production facilities. In 1951, the Pakistan Ordnance Factory was established at Wah cantonment to produce small arms, ammunition and explosives. After 1965, Pakistan, apart from shifting its overwhelming arms supplies reliance from the US… and other western countries like France; also began to concentrate on expanding its defence production facilities…The Heavy Industries facility in Taxila was established in 1971. In 1973, the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) was established at Kamra, (north of Islamabad), which began to assemble F-6 and French Mirages. Pakistan also indigenously produces ‘Mushak’ trainer aircraft. The PAC is planning to assemble the Chinese-developed JF-17 lightweight fighters from 2005, as also K-8 Karakorum advanced jet trainers for the PAF and potential export customers. The PAC’s contribution in the manufacturing of the K-8 aircraft project is believed to be about 20 percent. Nevertheless, the PAC aims to have 50 percent of the export share in the number of JF-17 and K-8 aircraft sold outside….the Heavy Rebuild Factory was renamed as Heavy Defence Industries, Taxila. During the IDEAS-2000 Defence Exhibition held at Karachi, Heavy Industries, Taxila (HIT) demonstrated its indigenously produced Main Battle Tank (MBT) Al-Khalid and Al Zarrar tank (modified and upgraded T-59 tank)….Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), and ANZA (shoulder fired surface-to-air missile) and Baktar Shikan anti-tank missiles (range 3,000 metres)—all produced by AQ Khan Research Laboratory—were also on display. HIT also displayed the indigenously built Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) ‘Talah’, and Command Post Vehicle ‘Sakb’. HIT produces Chinese T-85 II-AP tanks under licence. The Kahuta based AQ Khan Research Laboratory has developed an upgrade kit for the Chinese supplied Twin-37 mm light anti-aircraft guns. It also has begun to produce 122mm T-83 (Azar) Multiple Rocket System with a range of 13,400 metres. Pakistan has achieved self-sufficiency in arms and is well on its way to attain the same capability with regard to all types of tank and artillery ammunition.”

He added, “The Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KSEW) was established in 1957 and undertakes construction of passenger vessels, cargo vessels, oil carriers, bulk carriers etc. It has also been successful in producing mine hunters (length 47-metres, speed 14-knots), patrol boats (length 39-metres, speed 23-knots), 200-tonne missile craft (speed 25-knots), and floating docks up to 4,000-tonne lifting capacity. The KSEW offers these vessels on sale….The Pak Naval Dockyard under the Ministry of Defence also undertakes construction, repair and maintenance of vessels exclusively for the Pak Navy. It can build warships of up to 5,000 tonne…Over 200 defence items including missiles (anti-tank and surface-to-air), tanks, artillery guns and spare parts are being exported to more than 21 targeted countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Libya, Mauritius, and India’s neighbours like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar. It has also been creating a market for defence products in Nepal. Pakistan’s defence exports amounted to US $ 130 million in 2003 and the Defence Export Promotion Organisation (DEPO) has set a target of US $ one billion for the next 8 to 10 years.”

In this respect, in his article, published under the caption “GlobalVillageSpace.Com on July 27, 2017, Najam Ul Hassan wrote: “Indian Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Sarath Chand has recently acknowledged that Pakistan’s Defense Production base is bigger and working more efficiently than India. He pointed out that Pakistan exports more defense products than its much larger rival in the east. He blamed “lack of accountability” as the reason for a weak military industrial base in his country [India].

He explained, “Pakistan and India, regional rivals locked in an existential battle since the troubling division of British Empire in South Asia, have been in an arms race for the past many decades. This arms race ranges from the import of latest weaponry, nuclear capabilities and increasing indigenous production. As an economic extension of this battle both Pakistan and India have also started exporting military products that include tanks, aircraft. The Pakistani military, facing and fearing repeated US and western sanctions in 1990’s decided to embark on “Self Reliance”. This paradigm shift has helped it to establish itself as one of the most self-sufficient armed forces in the developing world–outside the bloc of major powers…Pakistan has two ordnance factories which come under the banner of the POF (Pakistan Ordnance factories). Established in 1951, POF is the largest state owned defense manufacturer in Pakistan. Besides being the main supplier of Pakistan Armed Forces and the law enforcement agencies, POF exports to a number of countries across Africa, Middle East and Latin America. Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Chad, Chile have thus emerged as importers of Pakistani weapon systems– the list is increasing and getting diversified after every international defense exhibition…Pakistan has also established its reputation in the production of heavy weaponry such as tanks and aircraft. The Heavy Industries Taxila and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Kamra are responsible for some of the world’s most affordable, modern day fighting machines in production today…with the Al Khalid tank and the JF-17 being the products with a high demand…Pakistan Air Force (PAF) started to induct the Pakistan-China jointly produced multi-role combat fighter, JF-17’s in its inventory…the Chinese F-7 aircraft are now flying indigenously produced JF-17. Other PAF units have also started inducting JF-17 fighters in their inventories. As for the Al Khalid Tank, an estimated 600 combat machines are already in service.”

In light of the above, we can, undoubtedly, conclude that defense production capability of Pakistan has been recognized internationally, particularly by its arch rival India.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations


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