Official claims big rise in arms exports

18 Jul 2008


ISLAMABAD, July 17: Pakistan’s defence exports have tripled to around $300 million because of the quality of its ammunition, anti-tank guided missiles, rocket launchers and shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles.

“Our defence exports have been rising substantially because the arms and ammunition we manufacture meet international standards,” Maj-Gen Mohammad Farooq, Director General of the Defence Export Promotion Organisation (Depo), told Dawn.

“We even won a contract in the face of tough competition from developed countries to manufacture parts of Boeing aircraft,” he said.

Although he wasn’t precise about earnings from arms exports, he said: “It has tripled and it is very good for Pakistan.”

He said arms trade was a complex business and it had to be on a government-to-government basis. Pakistan was answerable to the international community in terms of ensuring that the arms did not fall into wrong hands.

He said exports to South Asian, Middle Eastern and African countries had increased significantly.

He said there was a time when the country’s defence industry exported only small arms and ammunition, but now their range had diversified and developed countries were also purchasing Pakistan’s military hardware.

He said optical instruments like night vision devices, laser range-finders and designators, laser threat censors, artillery armour mortars and ammunition, mine detectors, anti-tank rifles, missile boats, different types of tear gases, fuses of unarmed vehicles, security equipment and sporting and hunting guns were also being manufactured in Pakistan.

“The fuses are being purchased by countries like Italy, France and Spain,” he said.

He said army tents, uniform and other equipment were also being exported.

In reply to a question, Maj-Gen Farooq said Pakistan was manufacturing Al Khalid tank. “Due to logistic reasons, we cannot export this tank but its parts are being exported.”

He said the country was phasing out old T-59 tanks by upgrading them to Al Zarar or replacing them with Al Khalid tanks.

The Depo chief said Pakistan had entered into partnership and out-sourcing programmes with several countries.

There was collaboration with China for building an air-defence system and manufacturing of Karakoram-8 and JF-17 Thunder, a multi-role modern fighter aircraft, he said.

The Depo chief said there was a joint venture with South Korea’s Poongsan company for manufacturing improved artillery ammunition. There was cooperation with France’s Nexter company to increase the range, accuracy and effectiveness of different weapons.

“France is also helping us make JF-17 Thunder aircraft and Al Khalid tank more useful by equipping them with advanced avionics,” he said.

He said Pakistan had built Agosta submarines and Puma and Ecureil helicopters with the help of France “with transfer of technology”.

He said collaboration with the United States had increased in manufacturing armoured personnel carriers with transfer of technology.

In reply to a question, he said, Pakistan’s military exports were higher than India’s. “Indians started working on Arjun tank but, they are yet to induct it in their army, while Pakistan has built and handed over Al Khalid tank to the army, although it started the programme later,” he said.