IDEAS-2004 showcases hopes in global market
KARACHI: Pakistan’s hopes of becoming a major player in the international defence market received a boost from an exhibition showcasing the country’s array of indigenous weaponry, ranging from ballistic missiles to light arms, said officials.
“It was a promotional exhibition and it achieved its aim,” Navy Chief Admiral Shahid Karimullah told reporters on Friday at the closing of the exhibition. He said, “Pakistan’s defence industry has grown at a rapid pace and we are moving faster now in terms of defence, production and promotion.” About three dozen countries displayed a variety of weapon systems and equipment at the exhibition, “Ideas 2004, Arms for Peace”, held amid tight security in a city which has seen a string of terrorist attacks this year.
Organisers said that the exhibition, which attracted 160 foreign delegates, provided an opportunity for defence industries to interact. President Pervez Musharraf, who opened the exhibition last Monday, said that it provided a platform for Pakistani defence manufacturers to compete in the world market and improve the country’s defence exports.
“We are a new player in the international defence market and with this exhibition we hope to expand our market,” said Major General Syed Ali Hamid, head of Pakistan’s Defence Export Promotion Organisation. “We have received a very good response, especially from African and Gulf countries,” said Hamid.
Pakistan’s military-run defence industry has been exporting arms and ammunition worth 100 million dollars annually to countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. On Thursday, a South African firm agreed to purchase four more trainer aircrafts built by Pakistan when state-owned Pakistan Aeronautical Complex signed the contract for four Mashak 17-1 aircraft with Uni Group Holdings. The firm had delivered one Mashak to the South African company in August. Pakistan’s long-range nuclear capable ballistic missiles, Ghauri and Shaheen and the medium-range Hataf and Abdali were on display at the exhibition along with more modest weapons such as indigenous versions of the T59 tank, called Al-Khalid and Al-Zarrar.
“Defence deals take long to mature but this (exhibition) was an opportunity for the participants to introduce their defence equipment to potential buyers,” said General Hamid.
Companies from countries like Russia, Ukraine, Netherlands, Australia, Belgium and Italy were present to promote their products and sound out future deals. “We are trying to improve our relationship with the (Pakistan) navy through this exhibition,” said Bernard Lancelle, project director of DCN, which helped Pakistan build two Agosta 90-B submarines.
Delegates from China said that they were happy to be part of the exhibition. “We have a history of cooperation with Pakistan and we are delighted to be here,” said Ting Wei, an official from China’s North Industries Corporation, which deals in tanks and armoured vehicles.
“We are looking for more cooperation between our country and Pakistan and this exhibition is a good opportunity,” said fellow Chinese delegate Wang Yi, general manager of China National Electronics Imports and Export Corporation.
Tight security due to the defence expo caused traffic jams in the city as roads leading to the site were closed for hours daily leaving a large number of commuters stranded. reuters