The report said the Pakistani Army now has a presence in six of the seven tribal agencies. -Reuters File Photo

LONDON: Pakistan continues to deploy significant number of its military and security personnel in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) though unprecedented flooding last summer increased pressure on Islamabad to maintain domestic security and stability, says the Military Balance 2011 report launched Tuesday by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

The report said the Pakistani Army now has a presence in six of the seven tribal agencies.

The 496-page report covering global militaries also mentioned Pakistan ability to procure Chinese produced weapons at favourable prices on the basis of its special relationship with China.

Defence agreements between Pakistan and China have enabled the transfer of funds for military training. Islamabad also announced last year that it was to receive US $8.8 million from China for training purposes and that the two countries had agreed to conduct military exercises.

The report stated that modernisation of Pakistan Air Force continues with acquisitions from both the US and China. PAF is seeking to acquire up to 250 JF-17 combat aircraft in the next five to ten years.

Egypt is believed to be in talks with Pakistan over joint production of the JF-17 while Pakistan is reported to have reached a $ 1.4 billion deal with China to buy 36 more advanced J-10 fighters.

Speaking at the launch, Dr.John Chipman, Director-General, IISS, said the Western states defence budgets are under pressure and their military procurement is constrained. But in other regions notably Asia and the Middle East, military spending and arms acquisitions are booming.

“There is persuasive evidence that a global redistribution of military power in under way,” he said.

He noted that in an atmosphere of economic stagnation, Western states defence budgets are declining. The outcome of UK's Strategic Defence and Security Review in October last year indicated the hard times facing most Western defence ministries and armed forces.

Dr.Chipman spoke of the stark contrast between the contracting defence budgets of many Western states and the growing military spending and arms procurement that characterised the Gulf, Asia-Pacific and Latin America.

This scenario, he said, has significant implications for the Western arms manufacturers. However, where more basic military equipment is concerned, Western arms exporters face strong and growing competition notably from Brazil, China, Russia, Singapore, South Africa and South Korea.

The IISS DG also noted that while UK has decided to mothball its aircraft carriers, countries like India, China and Brazil desire to expand or establish fleets based around aircraft carriers and other large ships.

In the Gulf, he said, the threat perceived from Iran with its growing missile capabilities and nuclear potential is stimulating the Gulf Co-operation Council countries including Saudi Arabia to spend heavily on defence and they are emphasising combat aircraft and ground-based air defences in their procurement programmes.

According to Dr.Chipman, the long running mistrust between China and India focused on their border disputes has led India to significantly reinforce its air force deployment to northern bases while the country is also justifying its own naval expansion plans in response to China's growing presence in the Indian Ocean.

He summarised by saying that it is clear that as a result of shifts in the global distribution of economic power and consequently the resources available for military spending, the US and other Western powers are losing their monopoly in key areas of defence technology, including stealth aircraft, unmanned systems and cyber warfare.

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