Pakistan Defence Exhibition-2012

By Zaheerul Hassan

Pakistan’ 7th Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) opened at Karachi Expo Centre Wednesday show casing locally manufactured military equipment. Some of the major indigenously developed products being showcased in IDEAS-2012 include main battle tank Al Khalid, JF 17 Thunder fighter aircraft, jet trainer aircraft and UAVs in addition to other armaments and communication equipment. While inaugurating of exhibition Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on November 7 2012   contended that Pakistan would have a crucial role in India’s efforts to acquire energy from the Central Asian Republics, saying peace and stability are essential for the socio-economic development of the region.

“India’s need for energy and trade with Central Asian Republics is largely dependent on Pakistan,” Ashraf said in his address at the inauguration of the International Defence Exhibition and Seminar in the southern port city of Karachi.

“Peace and stability are essential for socio-economic development of the region. It is a matter of satisfaction that both India and Pakistan are moving forward in the right direction through the composite dialogue framework,” he said.

South Asia, which is home to one-fifth of the world population and blessed with immense natural resources, has the “potential to emerge as a leading and potent economic force”, he told a gathering that included diplomats, senior Pakistani and foreign military officials and representatives of armament firms from round the world. He also discussed  at length on foreign policy issues, including Pakistan’s ties with the US and China, as well as the challenges confronting his country.

“Pakistan is confronted with complex challenges. The external and internal threats to Pakistan range from socio-economic to politico-military spectrum. We are confronted with extremism, militancy and intolerance in the society,” he said.
“The cumulative internal and external effects have somewhat eroded Pakistan’s space to manoeuver. In the midst of all these challenges, there lie opportunities for us,” he added. He rightly identified that the world is in transition at a rapid pace and its “economic centre of gravity is gradually shifting to Asia, more specifically to Asia Pacific”,

In an apparent reference to the strains that have marked ties between Islamabad and Washington since early last year, Ashraf said recent events had “created space for reviewing terms of Pakistan-US engagement and I consider this to be more of an opportunity than a challenge”.
On the other hand, Pakistan’s relations with China were “time tested” and could be further enhanced by focusing on trade and energy sectors, he said.

Pakistan could benefit from China in defence collaboration, “offsetting the undeclared technological apartheid”, he said.
Pakistan could also benefit from the rise of Turkey and Malaysia as new centres of economic influence, Ashraf said.

Holding of IDEAS-2012 is a proud moment for Pakistan and is a clear manifestation of the fact that the country does not lack behind in quality defence production. Around 80 foreign delegations from across the world have arrived which reflects the deep interest of the international defence organisations in the products of Pakistan which are of high quality and meet international standards. A total of 209 firms including 74 local and 209 foreign have put on display their products. Though the exhibition is being held after a gap of four years but there is an over whelming response from the exhibitors as well as delegations. The country is already exporting defence equipment produced at POF Wah and Aeronautical complex Kamra and there is vast scope to enter the third world market because Pakistani equipment is cheaper compared to the developed countries. Even some of the Western countries are importers of spares and other equipment and we hope that the trade delegations would place significant orders at the conclusion of the exhibition. However we would stress that the country should step up its efforts and enter into joint ventures with different countries not only to meet the defence needs of our Armed Forces but also produce surpluses for export.

In short, while conducting regularly such type of defence exhibition Pakistan has been able to entre in the modern era of armament technology and enhance its self reliance  on indigenously produced equipment .

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