Pakistan's commercial dreams sabotaged by Allied "iron" ballast

(To Andrea Cucco)

When the Deputy Chairman of China's Central Military Commission, General Zhang Youxia, met with the Chairman of Pakistan's Joint Chiefs of Staff Sahir Shamshad Mirza in Beijing last month, he said "the iron friendship between Pakistan and China has stood the test of international vicissitudes and is solid as a rock”.

The southern colleague, not to be outdone, replied with a "Pakistan-China friendship is higher than mountains, deeper than oceans, stronger than steel and sweeter than honey”.

Country you go, rhetoric you find…

The now "iron" subjection to China has led Pakistan to submit its military (including officer training) to Chinese training programs. Beijing is also Islamabad's main supplier of military equipment: from VT-4 tanks to JF-17 fighters Thunder, up to patrol boats, frigates and submarines.

The reality for the Pakistanis, beyond the ritual words of occasion of the summits, is however less cheerful: a dramatic economic crisis has long been forcing Islamabad to look for every avenue to raise foreign currency.

Ukraine: the cynical occasion

The global defense market following the Russo-Ukrainian war is booming. For Pakistan it represents a commercial opportunity for the production and export of arms and ammunition with, in addition, the desire to conquer new markets, in the Middle East and South-East Asia in particular.

There is a problem: Pakistan's defense industries are averagely outdated and it would be vital to acquire modern machinery and equipment. The j with western suppliers, however, they are at extreme risk (for those who manage to see the evidence… barring treason!), with a Chinese owner who does not recognize copyrights and steals technology.

The question for every wise industrial operator and "patriot" (even at a minimum "trade union" level) should therefore be: are we signing with Islamabad or Beijing?

As long as there is war there is hope

However, the Russo-Ukrainian conflict is, meanwhile, providing Pakistan with an opportunity to export (and not "give away") arms and ammunition, earning coveted foreign currency. The supply of 155mm artillery ammunition to Kiev alone (Islamabad dreams of becoming a major exporter of NATO 155mm ammunition) is bringing huge profits.

In light of the geopolitical dynamics in Asia, China sees Pakistan as a country which - having long since compromised the trust of its old Western allies - will be loyal and obedient to the end. Beijing's infrastructure loans (roads, railways, ports…) are not without political "interest".

Pakistan's ambitions to become a successful military exporter are, however, originally undermined by the presence of the ally. A regime, contemptuous of human rights (starting from those of its citizens), which the majority of nations, not only in Asia and the Indo-Pacific, are preparing to face…

Photo: Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China