Need to tap defence production potential
PRESIDENT Mamnoon Hussain deservess credit for highlighting is sues of core importance to the country in his public appearances and interaction with governmental authorities and foreign interlocutors. In line with this approach, during a meeting with Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanwir Hussain on Tuesday, he called for concerted efforts to promote and market the country’s defence products in the international market to bolster exports and strengthen the economy.
Despite various odds and constraints, Pakistan has achieved not only selfsufficiency in several areas of defence production but also has the capacity to export the surplus. According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, the country substitutes imported defence equipment worth over $ 1.5 billion, which is a remarkable achievement and speaks volumes about defence production capabilities and export potential. Pakistan is currently producing multi-role modern aircraft JF-17, Mushak and Super Mashak trainers, Al Khalid and Al Zarrar tanks and a variety of missiles besides APCs, small arms and medium-sized weapon systems. Our defence production industry is not only fulfilling small arms requirements of the Armed forces but meets demands of several friendly countries because of ISO certified quality and competitive prices. It is, however, understood that there are limitations on defence production because of financial constraints and geo-strategic issues, which need to be addressed if Pakistan has to occupy a place of prominence in the list of arms exporting country. We have fertile minds and basic infrastructure is also there but what we need is allocation of necessary funds for research and development. There are dozens of R&D organisations but manpower there is sitting crossed-legs because of lack of resources and proper planning, which amounts to sheer negligence and wastage of even allocated funds for them. There should be closer collaboration between universities, R&D institutions and the industry besides rigorous efforts to enter into cooperative arrangements with some of the friendly countries for joint production facilities. There is also need for effective marketing with the involvement of our missions abroad if the President’s advice for bolstering exports of defence products has to be implemented in letter and in spirit.