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NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Pakistan emerging arms market in world

Press Trust of India

After enduring two decades of international arms embargo, Pakistan is set to emerge as one of the most active new players in the $3 trillion world arms market.

Its arms export last year amounted to $200 million - a small sum in comparison to the US and Russia, nonetheless a huge earning for Pakistan considering that the arms sanction against it was lifted just five years ago.

The sanction was imposed by the US and its European allies to punish Pakistan for embarking on its nuclear weapons programme.

However, following the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and Pakistan's support for the US-led war on terrorism, the US has designated the populous Muslim nation as a major non-NATO ally - one of the few Muslim countries to be accorded the privilege.

The designation meant that Pakistan now has access to weapons, from aircraft to missiles, which were denied to it five years ago.

During the period of embargo, Pakistan turned to its long-time ally, China for cooperation in arms trade, which according to defence experts, was limited to conventional weapons only.

However, with its "new status" in the world arms market, Pakistan's arms exhibition, International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) 2006, is being viewed as one of the leading defence events in the South Asia region.

A total of 231 companies, including those from the US, Europe, Russia and China took part in the four-day event which showcased five long-range surface-to-surface missiles, in service with the Pakistan Army Strategic Forces Command (ASFC)

Among the missiles were the intermediate range ballistic missiles, the Ghauri and Shaheen II. The Ghauri has a 1,500 km range, and the Shaheen II, 2,000 km.

On November 16, witnessed by Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, a Ghauri missile was test fired from an unspecified location.

Pakistan has neither confirmed nor denied that its ballistic missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Growing Export Market

Pakistan is exporting arms and munitions to 50 Asian and Europeans countries, the US, UK and New Zealand.

Its sales are not limited to small arms and ammunition; they also included big-ticket items, such as the Super Mushak training aircraft to Middle East, gunboats to Bangladesh and man portable air defence missiles to Malaysia.

These sales have wetted Pakistan's appetite to further penetrate the international arms market.

It recently demonstrated the capability of its Al-Khalid main battle tank (MBT) in Saudi Arabia with a hope to clinch a deal for the sale of 150 tanks to beef up the Kingdom's defence forces.

The Al-Khalid MBT, manufactured by Pakistan's Heavy Industries Taxila, was the result of Pakistan-China collaboration.
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