Diversification of defence needs

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THE Prime Minister statement that Pakistan is not totally dependent on defence supplies from the United States is re-assuring and encouraging. In an interview to Arab News, Mr Abbasi pointed out that Pakistan was once heavily dependent on Washington for defence equipment but now it has in its inventory defence systems acquired from China, European countries and lately the Russian Federation. He said if one source dries up, then Pakistan has the options to go to another source.
There are no two opinions that the United States provided much-needed military and economic assistance to Pakistan for a long time, fulfilling defence requirements of the country to a considerable extent. However, it is also a fact that the United States withheld or suspended its assistance at most crucial junctures of the country’s history fuelling resentment among people of Pakistan. Pakistan was denied spares and even delivery of aircrafts, for which the country made advance payment, due to geo-political considerations. There is also a feeling that despite designation as the non-NATO ally, Pakistan had no access to the required equipment, arms and technologies that are being showered on India by Washington. And lately, the United States is repeating its strategy of using the lever of assistance to pressurise Pakistan in the context of war on terror despite the fact that Islamabad has done more than any other nation in this regard just for the sake of regional, global peace and security. Another aspect worth consideration is that Pakistan has been denied access to technology, therefore, there was no worthwhile movement towards indigenisation of American-supplied weapons system. Under these circumstances, diversification of supply sources is a welcome move as it would end reliance on a single source and meet multifarious security and defence requirements of the country. However, we would urge that a poor country like Pakistan cannot afford to buy everything needed from the international market especially when the economy is not in a good shape. The focus should be on joint ventures, with dependable partners, in defence production and transfer of technology.