New Delhi, 21 December 2004
Pakistan has recently been promised eight fully equipped PC3 Orions, Harpoons, Anti Missile Phalanx Guns, TOW missiles and now F16s from USA and that must come as a boost to Gen Musharraf.
Now we also learn how much the Saudis will get from Pakistan, besides the personnel who assist them, in return for oil. A US report also indicated Pakistan's nuclear arsenal was bigger than India's. Surely Saudi Arabia can come to an understanding on that arsenal with Pakistan –– K Subrahmanyam had once told us when the Saudis got Long range missiles from China in the late 70s, and it created a furore. Pakistan recently tested the Ghauri and the Ghaznavi, Hatf II and III missiles. They are imbibing technology well it seems and the Khalid tank is a success.
How come Pakistan, with a comparatively small industrial base, was able to develop such a sophisticated domestic weapons industry –– in aircraft, tanks, armoured vehicles, missiles,, nuclear technology and submarines? This is a question posed by a friend who posted the interesting article below.
The answer he gives –– it’s easier for them to develop the required political thinking and muscle to undertake a weapons development and production programme in the absence of a democratically elected government, with all its attendant political pulls and pressures. But that still does not absolve our politico-bureaucratic establishment from the blame accruing to them in this matter. RM Pranab Mukherjee has the right ideas, but we guess that he too is bogged down in politics and has little experience in Defence Industry, which he is learning about and fast. Inter Service rivalry and DRDO interests are what need to be guarded against.
At this juncture we see an FIR against Railways Minister Laloo Prasad and the opposition will no doubt take full advantage of this –– as Ram Vilas Paswan claps his hands in joy. In India the bureaucrats have the larger responsibility. In Pakistan it is the Military which decides.
Pakistan Top Military Supplier To Saudis
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are implementing a $1.2 billion defense and military cooperation agreement that paves the way for the sale of aircraft, tanks, armored vehicles and submarines to the Arab kingdom. Industry sources said the defense cooperation agreement envisioned Pakistani military sales to Saudi Arabia over the next decade. The agreement would turn Islamabad into a leading military supplier to Saudi Arabia, expand Riyad's defense industry and deploy a Pakistani brigade in the kingdom.
"The agreement does not obligate Saudi Arabia to buy anything," said an industry source. "But the Saudis have agreed to examine Pakistani systems, upgrades and training for all services of the military."
The accord was signed in 2003 and implemented this year, sources said. The first deal executed under the accord was the $34 million sale of 20 Super Mashak air trainers to the Saudi Air Force. The first delivery of eight Super Mashak trainers has taken place. The rest of the aircraft are to be delivered by the end of this year. Pakistani Aeronautical Complex manufactured the aircraft.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have also expanded military training and exercises under the agreement. This week the two countries held their first ground force exercise in Pakistan, reported to have included tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery and other heavy weaponry.
The second stage of the defense and military cooperation accord is expected to begin in 2005. In mid-2005, the Saudi Army is scheduled to hold field trials of Pakistan's Al Khalid main battle tank. The Saudi Army attended a field trial in Pakistan in mid-2004 and agreed to procure at least one Al Khalid for the trials in the kingdom. The sources said the Saudi military was considering the purchase of at least 100 Al Khalid tanks, based on China's T-90 2M. The tanks would be obtained at a much better price than a French offer in 2003 for the Leclerc main battle tank.
Pakistan has also offered Saudi Arabia Al Hamza armored infantry fighting vehicles. Al Hamza, based on the U.S.-origin M113, would be equipped with anti-tank missile launchers.
Most of the Pakistani equipment would not be directly transferred to the Saudi military, the sources said. Instead, the tanks, APCs and anti-tank missiles would be used to equip a Pakistani Army armoured brigade in Saudi Arabia. The sources said the brigade would arrive in the kingdom in 2005 and help in border security.
The third stage of the defense accord includes an examination of Pakistani warships to Riyad. The sources said the Saudi navy has been discussing the purchase of the Agosta-90B diesel submarine.
The accord envisions that Saudi Arabia would pay for the weapons in oil exports to Islamabad. Saudi Arabia is the leading oil exporter to Pakistan.