Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, is in Pakistan where she has signed a government-to-government defence co-operation agreement which includes industrial co-operation.
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed on 27 March to “promote collaboration and exchange” between the two countries with the emphasis, from the South African side, on the Defence Review.
According to Pakistan’s Geo News, Mapisa-Nqakula signed the MoU in Islamabad with Pakistani Federal Minister for Defence, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, who had invited Mapisa-Nqakula to his country. Pakistan and South Africa will establish a joint defence committee that will “pave the way for strengthening and diversifying through formal structures, collaborative programmes, exchange of information and training of both officers and soldiers”.
Co-operation in research and development, technology transfer and co-production/joint ventures for both the public and private sectors are included in the MOU domain.
Asif said Pakistan is strengthening ties will allies like South Africa as it reduces its dependence on Western military equipment. On her side, Mapisa-Nqakula is reported by Geo News as saying South Africa will discuss the Super Mushshak trainer aircraft.
Mapisa-Nqakula also called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, at General Headquarters. “Views were exchanged in the meeting on issues of mutual interest including defence and security cooperation between both the countries and overall regional security situation,” according to Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR). She apparently also visited the Minister of Defence Production.
An earlier Defence and Military Veterans Ministry statement said: “due to sanctions and embargoes imposed against South Africa, the two countries did not officially initiate bilateral relations until after the end of apartheid in 1994. Since then the Pakistan/South Africa has been gaining momentum”.
The Minister is quoted by the statement as saying: “The importance of continuous cementing of relations in an effort to share knowledge and ideas can never be over-emphasised. As the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) we believe in empowering ourselves and others through collaborative partnerships and agreements”.
Her visit to Pakistan is, according to her office, the first official one by a South African Minister of Defence and Military Veterans in democratic South Africa.
She is accompanied by “mainly executive advisors from the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans”. The minister’s visit is scheduled for 27 to 29 March.
Last year Pakistan’s Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah, requested information on the Denel Dynamics Umkhonto surface-to-air missile (SAM) while on a visit to Simon’s Town in May. Pakistan has apparently expressed interest in the company’s A-Darter fifth-generation air-to-air missile and Pakistani defence companies had a large presence at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition outside Pretoria in September last year. Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), for example, exhibited for the first time and brought a Super Mushshak trainer to the show, after racking up a first order for the type in Africa, from the Nigerian Air Force.
South Africa, meanwhile, is promoting defence equipment in Pakistan, with Denel attending the International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) in Karachi in November last year. Denel Land Systems was promoting its T5-52 self-propelled howitzer at the show in response to Pakistan Army requirements and it is believed that evaluations took place in the Asian country.
Meanwhile, General Solly Shoke, Chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) on 23 March visited Air Headquarters in Pakistan where he was welcomed by Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force. Also on the 23rd, Shoke attended the 77th Pakistan Day parade in Shakarparian, along with delegations from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and China.
On 24 March he visited Naval Headquarters and met Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah, according to a Pakistan Navy press release, and commended the Pakistan Navy in fighting terrorism and piracy and ensuring security in the Indian Ocean.
Shoke also visited Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) on 24 March. POF manufactures assault rifles, machineguns, mortars, artillery pieces and ammunition as well as tanks and anti-tank ammunition, bombs and grenades and has exported its products to more than 40 countries around the world.