New Delhi: While Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has been escalating his anti-Western rhetoric and alleging a global conspiracy to topple him, the Pakistan military is looking at resetting its ties with Western powers, especially the US — as hinted by Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa at a seminar this past weekend.
Sources in the Indian defence and security establishment said the Pakistan military is trying to get the country off the Grey List of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and is seeking defence cooperation with the West — which has increasingly been refusing to supply equipment and cancelling deals due to Pakistan’s support of terrorism.
According to the sources, this is because Pakistan’s military hasn’t had a good experience with some of the Chinese products they’ve procured.
Some of the Chinese equipment inducted in the past few years, including a main battle tank, artillery and air defence equipment, has been facing a lot of servicing and performance issues, the sources said.
While Pakistan has already signed a contract for a new set of submarines from China, the sources said that denials of defence technology to Pakistan by countries including Germany, besides the US and France, have impacted the country’s defence preparedness.
This included France’s refusal to upgrade its Agosta 90B class submarines with air-independent propulsion (AIP) for the Pakistan Navy, and also to upgrade the fleet of Mirage fighter jets with the Pakistan Air Force.
Germany, too, had refused to upgrade Pakistan’s submarines with AIP technology in 2020.
West must maintain ‘balance’ says Bajwa
Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa highlighted these issues during a talk over the weekend at a seminar.
Responding to a question from the audience about how he sees Pakistan’s security cooperation with China for the next 10 years, the Army chief said that Pakistan was not looking at “camp politics”.
While this was a closed-door event, videos of his speech have cropped up on social media.
Q: How do you see security cooperation with China progressing in the next decade?
▫️We are not looking for camp politics.
▫️We had historically excellent relations with US. The good army we have today is largely built and trained by US. The best eqpt we have is US equipment pic.twitter.com/DLNfVmog1c
— Major Adil Raja (R) (@soldierspeaks) April 4, 2022
Gen Bajwa noted that historically, Pakistan has had excellent relations with the US. “The good army we have today is largely built and trained by the US. The best equipment we have is US equipment,” he said.
He said that Pakistan’s military cooperation with China was growing as a result of the West’s denial of equipment.
Many deals that were concluded with the West have been cancelled due to Pakistan’s continued support for terrorism.
Gen Bajwa went on to give the example of the US refusing to give third-party certification for the engines on a Turkish helicopter gunship that the Pakistanis were buying.
He also spoke about the French and the Germans refusing to upgrade Pakistan’s submarines, saying that this forced the country to look towards China.
The French had also refused to upgrade the Pakistan Air Force’s Mirage fighter jets, which the Pakistanis believe was because of pressure from New Delhi, as India is a big defence market.
He added that the West has a responsibility to maintain a “balance”.
“If you are tilted towards one side outrightly, we will find sources from where we can get weapons to save ourselves. You need to carry out introspection, whether your policy is right or not. We have been your allies for a very long time, we were part of SEATO, CENTO and the Baghdad Pact,” he said, referring to defunct Cold War-era alliances.
“We supported you in Vietnam, we supported you in Afghanistan, we helped you dismantle the erstwhile Soviet Union, and the muck you created yesterday, we are trying to clean that. So we have paid a lot of costs. What are you doing about us? I must ask you the question. Are you maintaining a balanced approach or not,” he said.
He said that if the West feels that there is too much Chinese influence in Pakistan, the only way to counter that is by bringing in counter-investment.
Sources explained that Pakistan is slowly trying to get back into the good books of the West, especially the US establishment.