Pakistan is looking to expand its export of arms, with the end goal of selling $1 billion worth of defence equipment every year, according to a report by the Nikkei Asian Review. In fact, it has already started increasing its arms sales.
The publication quoted a senior government official who said the export of weapons exceeded $210 million last fiscal year. Two years earlier, that same number was at $100 million. Five years before that, it was $60 million.
The officials credited this upward trend to Pakistan’s drive for greater weapons self-sufficiency.
Though there is no public data available on what kind of weapons were exported or where, it is thought that China has played a big role in Pakistani arms production. An example is the JF-17 Thunder fighter jets that are jointly manufactured by the two countries.
“The JF-17 has helped Pakistan lay the groundwork for self-sufficiency,” said defence analyst Lt Gen (retired) Talat Masood. He said China has also helped Pakistan produce tanks, supported its air force through the JF-17 project and its navy with assistance in building warships and submarines.
In 2016, Pakistan signed a deal with Myanmar for the sale of 16 JF-17 fighters and though the actual contract value was not made public, officials have privately said it was for around $400 million.
In addition to this, Pakistan has sold three JF-17s to Nigeria, signed a deal with Turkey to sell 52 Super Mushshak training aircraft and 1,000 PK-83 general purpose bombs.
Collaborating with China has helped Pakistan improve its ability to produce advanced weapons, according to analysts. “Pakistan has graduated well beyond just a manufacturer of small weapons,” a senior foreign ministry official said. “We are now looking at big-ticket items.”
Other analysts say Pakistan’s access to major markets will be limited and it will have to rely on countries with budgetary constraints, like those in Africa.