Amid financial woes, Pakistan imitates India’s ‘atmanirbharta’ effort

Islamabad celebrated Pakistan Day with a grand display of its military products

pakistan-day-X via X

With India undertaking a massive ‘atmanirbharta’ effort to make weapons, platforms and military systems at home to reduce dependence on foreign weapons companies, Pakistan, too, has chosen to emulate its neighbour.

But the critical difference is that Pakistan is trying to make weapons at home amid political instability and deepening economic woes under the shadow of overt and covert Chinese help in making military equipment.

So deep is the economic crisis that recently the Pakistan government has issued an order banning the use of red carpets at government events, other than diplomatic ones which has to be continued as a matter of protocol. The measure is understood to be part of the governmental effort to curtail ‘unnecessary expenditures’.

President Asif Ali Zardari has already relinquished his salary and perks due to the precarious financial state his country is in, even as Islamabad is planning to approach the IMF for funds.

A few days ago, Islamabad celebrated Pakistan Day with a grand display of its military products in a parade. What is interesting is that most of these equipment tried to tout a ‘made in Pakistan’ tag.

The parade—which saw participation by a Chinese military marching contingent—witnessed the introduction of a new aircraft prototype, the PFX fighter, which, according to some reports, may stand for ‘Pakistan Fighter Experimental’. This aircraft is an upgrade of the Chinese JF-17 ‘Thunder’ which has been in the Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF's) service for more than two decades.

According to an agreement with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), headquartered at Kamra in Pakistan’s Punjab, makes a major part of the airframe and other components before the JF-17 is fully assembled with Chinese parts. Islamabad plans to replace the aging JF-17 with the PFX.

Easily the mainstay of the PAF in terms of numbers and organised into six squadrons, the JF-17 is deployed at all the three commands of the PAF—North, Central and South.

Significantly, Pakistan is reported to be in talks with Turkey for collaboration on the latter's fifth generation stealth fighter aircraft called the TFX or the ‘Kaan’ which had its first flight on February 21.

A key platform put on display was the ‘Haider’ main battle tank that is the first ever locally produced tank based on the Chinese NORINCO-designed VT-4 tank which rolled out from the premises of Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) recently.

There were other equipment on display with the ‘home-made’ tag which included air defence systems, the ‘Buraq’ combat drone that is armed with the Burq guided missile system, tactical and strategic missiles, armoured personnel carriers and combat vehicles.

But this effort at indigenisation is happening at a time when the Pakistani economy is in doldrums.


Join our WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news, exclusives and videos on WhatsApp