Pakistan’s Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf today officially opened the seventh International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) in Karachi today, as the country showcases its local defence equipment and offers it for export to the rest of the world.
A large number of foreign delegations are present at IDEAS 2012, with 135 foreign companies in attendance, together with 74 Pakistani defence and security firms. Turkey and China have the largest foreign stands at the show.
“Pakistan has a large defence manufacturing, training and support infrastructure in place, which is not only capable of meeting the needs of our armed forces, but also has the capacity to fulfil demands from other countries with exceptionally high quality products at mutually acceptable terms,” said Ashraf as he opened the exhibition.
Some of the locally produced equipment on display includes a wide variety of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), locally upgraded armoured vehicles, the Al-Zarrar main battle tank and various items of equipment produced with China, such as the Al-Khalid main battle tank, K-8 Karakorum jet trainer and JF-17 Thunder fighter jet.
“This event gives our own companies the opportunity to exhibit their products – something that is not easy when we go to similar exhibitions elsewhere,” said Commodore Siddiq Akbar, spokesperson for Pakistan’s Defence Export Promotion Organisation. Akbar said countries in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa are the main target markets for locally manufactured equipment. Pakistan is offering a wide variety of equipment for export, including tanks and aircraft, but finding buyers is difficult in the face of stiff international competition. Events like IDEAS aim to change that by raising awareness and promoting international cooperation.
“IDEAS has come a long way since its inception in 2000,” said Minister for Defence Production, Sardar Bahadur Khan Sehar. “We’ve seen a marked improvement…during these years.” Initially, around 40 delegations and 65 companies took part in the first IDEAS but today 209 companies are present at the exhibition. Sehar said that IDEAS 2012 would bring more opportunities to the Pakistani defence industry.
Ashraf said IDEAS aims to address major security issues and potential areas of cooperation between nations interested in securing and maintaining world peace. He said the world is in transition, with its economic centre of gravity gradually shifting to Asia, more specifically to the Asia Pacific region. He said that peace and stability were major requirements for any nation seeking economic prosperity and social welfare. Such issues are particularly important to Pakistan as the country faces militancy, extremism and religious intolerance, something Ashraf said has had an ‘eroding’ effect on the country. “In the midst of all these challenges, there lie opportunities for us,” he said, noting that the region is home to a fifth of the world’s population and has the potential to be a leading economic force. Peace and security are essential to achieving this, he said.
He made it clear that Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and said it is a belief that it is possible to create a world free of terrorism. In addition to using military power to combat terrorism, “real victory against terrorists is only possible if the root causes are addressed,” Ashraf said, such as foreign occupation, oppression, denial of fundamental rights, economic deprivation and injustice.
IDEAS runs from November 7 to 11 and includes seminars discussing military and security matters. The International Defence Seminar was held at the Sheraton Hotel this evening while Sideline Conferences will be held at the exhibition tomorrow, when they will discuss topics like the challenges faced by Pakistani and international armed forces.