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This Week in Review: Can Pakistan find an alternative to America?
May 1, 2017

This Week in Review: Can Pakistan find an alternative to America?

Every weekend, Quwa will close the week’s news with a review and analysis with the aim to tie together several topics into broader themes. It is an opportunity to reflect upon and discuss issues in a way where key trends are identified and individual news topics are connected into a “bigger picture.”

Can Pakistan find an alternative to America?

Washington’s decision to withhold $300 million in Coalition Support Funds (CSF) to Pakistan (on account of its apparent unwillingness to neutralize the so-called ‘Haqqani Network’) will require Pakistan to review its approach for securing advanced armaments. Traditionally, access to U.S. aid and armaments has served as a means for Pakistan to procure technologically advanced weaponry, especially during the Cold War.

The F-16 is perhaps the most identifiable example of this fact. The F-16 served as the Pakistan Air Force (PAF)’s qualitative spear tip since its induction in the 1980s. However, the PAF is not the only service arm to be dependent on American arms in this manner. The mainstay of the Pakistan Navy’s maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) fleet is comprised of Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion aircraft. The Army’s dedicated attack helicopter fleet is centered on the AH-1F/S Cobra, and it secured a purchase of 15 Bell AH-1Z Vipers.

While workhorse units are generally of Chinese origin, the Pakistani military has still sought Western armaments as a means to maintain and build its qualitative capabilities. For example, it was the F-16s – via the Block-52+ and Mid-Life Update (MLU) – that introduced modern precision-strike, advanced tactical data-link connectivity and beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air capabilities to the PAF fighter fleet.

In light of Pakistan’s systemic economic troubles, U.S. assistance has been a central component in helping the Pakistani armed forces acquire modern weaponry, i.e. modern American weaponry. With the stop on CSF and the refusal to provide Foreign Military Financing (FMF) support for a proposed sale of eight F-16C/D Block-52+, Pakistan should consider this avenue shut.

Granted, one might argue that if Pakistan had possessed a strong economy, it would be able to buy American arms. However, this belies the reality of how Washington generally pursues its long-term security interests, especially in the Middle East and Asia. If there was a desire to see a country such as Pakistan strengthened militarily, then a weak economy would not stop it from becoming stronger. As with many countries, such as Egypt and even Pakistan of past decades, military aid would have been used. At the minimum, one should readily conclude that the U.S. has no active interest in seeing a militarily strong Pakistan (otherwise, it would have propped one up, as it had in earlier decades).

Moreover, it is Pakistan’s structural economic problems that (only in part) predispose it to look favourably towards the U.S., and pursue the U.S. as an avenue to help it meet its defence needs in relation to India. In the absence of that aid, and left to its own inherent economic capabilities and foreign relations ‘muscle’, Pakistan’s ability to offset its dependence on U.S. arms – especially in the qualitative or high-tech area – is severely limited. While Western Europe is not as committed to binding arms transfers to its overseas security interests as the U.S., the likes of France and Britain will still require payment for their $250 million a unit Dassault Rafales and Eurofighter Typhoons, respectively. Russia, which is in a precarious economic situation, simply requires hard cash, and in Pakistan’s case, it also needs assurances that sales lost to India could be secured through Pakistan. Realistically, it is apparent that Pakistan cannot cater to either source.

This leaves Pakistan with a limited set of options. First, there is China, which views Pakistan as strategically valuable on two main fronts: long-term economic progress and offsetting India. As long as the U.S. seeks to contain China, and India gradually creeps into Washington’s sphere of interests, then Beijing will have an interest in positioning Pakistan as a counterweight to India (so as to relieve pressure).

As demonstrated with a recent purchase for eight air-independent propulsion (AIP) powered submarines, Beijing is willing to offer Pakistan flexible support mechanisms – e.g. financing options – as a means to fulfill its defence needs. In addition, Pakistan can benefit from the vast scale generated by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)’s need for advanced arms. In many cases, such as in the area of conventional submarines, development funding is assured and extensively distributed (across a large number of PLA units), thereby making ventures with the Chinese comparatively less costly and less risky. It is likely that a large number of Pakistan’s future defence requirements will draw from the Chinese industry.

The second option would be intermediary sources of Western technology, such as Turkey. Utilizing its networks with NATO and the Western defence industry, Turkey has developed a series of NATO-compliant solutions, such as the Aselsan ASELPOD advanced targeting pod (which is poised to be used from the JF-17 Thunder). Of course, Turkey’s ability to provide financing support (like China or the U.S.) is severely limited, if not non-existent at this time. Pakistan would need to pay in hard cash. Furthermore, not every component of Turkey’s offerings will be readily available for export. For example, while the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) T-129 seems to have drawn interest from the Pakistan Army, TAI will still need to acquire third-party approval to export the T-129’s turboshaft engine, which is of Anglo-American origin.

In either scenario, Pakistan’s ability to procure effective qualitative solutions – especially in emerging areas – is limited. If not out of vendor sensitivities, then Pakistan’s own inherent (read: financial) limitations. The Pakistani military will need to reposition the domestic industry as not only its principle resource for cost savings, but technology parity as well. This is not to suggest that the domestic base will be able to cater for every aspect of the armed forces’ qualitative needs, but Pakistan cannot afford to maintain its existing position, i.e. the fact that it can only import the entirety – or even the majority – of its high-tech defence needs from the U.S. Kamra Aviation City and the PAF’s intentions behind its next-generation fighter program may be concrete steps towards this route.

 

  • Abdul Rashid

    Nice choice of cover photo for the article. Looks like Obama is wielding a big stick with which to whack the hapless Sharif. Great symbolism I must say, intentional or otherwise. Any captions to go with it?

  • bill

    Sir, USA never had and will not provide modern weapons which may prove to be superior to that of India. It is clearly evident that on paper Pak F16s are in no way superior to Indian Su30s, upgraded Mirage 2000s or Mig29.

    Further Pak is a dumping ground for US obsolete technology, even USA got sufficient cash from Pak in the name of up gradation of OHP. So far even cant use it effectively for defense as it has no significant weapons especially in case of Air defense.

    On the other hand F16 block -52 are totally under observation of US officials in the name of security or repair work we can’t use them against India for offensive.

    The above two examples are quite enough to clear the whole picture, now it’s the time to say good bye to US junk and go for Russian/Chinese equipment. In case of financial constraints Pak may manage to keep purchases at limited level on annual basis and to prioritize the procurement.

    If we go for SU35 we may purchase them in batch of 5 to 6 annually and we may get a squadron of full strength in three years time. Even if we are able to get two squadrons of SU35 they may prove to be beneficial for both deep penetration/naval roles. Even these jets are effecrtive against any modern 5th gen jet.

  • Mohsin E.

    Even without tactical parity, we have strategic parity on account of our nukes. Which means India can not cripple Pakistan. So there’s no functional point in spending billions on tactical toys because the strategic stalemate won’t be affected by them. Tactical parity, even if achieved, is just for show at this point, it’s not going to change anything on the ground. This is the situation we’re in.

    That said, Pakistan also can not achieve its strategic objectives, with strategic parity alone… You need more than parity in order to force the issue. You need strategic dominance.

    In order to dominate, and force a situation in which Pakistan can (A) take Kashmir and (B) secure its Eastern flank permanently by neutralizing India as a valid threat, the level of advantage needed by Pakistan is so out of its league (even with the latest gen technology that we can possibly buy) that it is practically impossible. UNLESS, you really step outside the box…

    But first, we need to realize and accept that if Pakistan keeps following the same technological path that others have already trodden, it’s not gonna change the basic dynamic, because India would buy/develop that tech first anyway, and you will end up back in the same strategic stalemate, except with a lighter wallet. There is NO counter-argument to this basic fact.

    There’s only one actual solution to this strategic problem: R&D. Our scientists are the only ones that can change the stalemate, by inventing solutions which simply don’t exist, technologies and weapons which no one has even thought of yet. That’s how every dominant civilization in history ascended, there are NO short cuts. But in order to generate all of this, we need to rewrite our entire defunct system, because this stuff doesn’t just pop out of a happy meal toy box. A massive change needs to take place in order to produce a higher level of civilization.

    Of course, there’s a flip side to this coin… India can do the same thing and overwrite our strategic parity with a ‘quantum leap’ of its own… And if that happens, then “Pakistan” would probably be the title of a cautionary tale you’ll find in some history book.

    • MT

      pak may be security state which desire complete annihilation of india but india is happy with existence of pakistan if pak agrees to status quo & stop jihad In india
      it ll make sense for pak if it uses technology to improve social economic conditions

      • Mohsin E.

        Pak does not desire “anhilation” of India, it desires the neutralization of the threat from India, which is not the same thing. And as for the status quo, that is not acceptable to Pakistan.

  • SP

    Since Pakistan came into existence its policy has been to partner with a country that should guarantee its safety from a much larger neighbour India that has still not come to terms with the existence of Pakistan. Pakistan found a partner in the US which helped the country until the 1960s. Since the 1960s US has been woeing India which ended the partnership and Pakistan then started to look at China. Since the 1960s partnership with the US has become a liability instead of strength. We have had to suffer military rules inspired by the US and have been embroiled in 2 Afghan wars the blowback of which has affected Pakistan for around 3 decades. End the partnership with the US will be a blessing in disguise for Pakistan. Its handout of peanuts and causing political instability to Pakistan have stopped our leaders to make the hard decisions necessary for the country to prosper. The pressler amendment forced us to develop the Jf-17. The sanctions after nuclear explosions forced us to focus on economy for a short time. The crippling of our economy by WOT has forced our friend China to launch CPEC to rebuild our country and economy. If it had been upto the US we would have been destroyed by now. The US is ruled by Zionists who have the ultimate say and we can never be friends with it. Putting Pakistan into a tight cornet, cutting ties with US and making difficult choices whilst avoiding any adventurism is in the best interest of Pakistan. Our worst enemies are not outside Pakistan but the fifth column inside Pakistan.

  • sufi

    China is spending lots of money in deffense R&D , its technology will mature within next 10 years….all is not lost , we need to muddle through the next 10 years.

  • Aj

    Russia wont like to sell cutting edge technology to Pakistan. Russia has orders worth billions of dollars from India. Also Russia enjoys a strategic relationship with India, Indians industries are investing a lot in Russia to boost its economy. They are also working together with India and Iran in North South Transport Corridor. The purpose of which is to reduce the time of the cargo from India to Russia. In such circumstances Pakistan cannot expect much from Russia.

  • Freebird

    Turkey is to Pakistan what Israel is to India. But with a difference: Turkey and Pakistan are true brothers, it is not a profit partnership.

    • MT

      Turkey is nowhere in global technology map not even on par with india on any indicator.

      • bla bla

        India is the world biggest poverty with a total of inflation and poor economic conditions with slums Turkey has a much stronger economy better than East Europe and India

        • MT

          turks have bigger per capita gdp . Thanks to pre erdogan liberal secular democratic Pro European policy but they are behind india in technology sector

          • Shafiq Ahmed

            India is nowhere close to Turkey in Defence Technology.Turkey has made one of the most modern main battle tank altay, produces world class avionics for fighter aircrafts and co produces tai 129 combat helicopter.Long Live Turkey and great Turk Brothers

          • MT

            Dont make me laugh. Altay is licensed tank made with tech transfer from korean K9 with german engine and fire control system

            TAI129 is licensed product of Agustwestland,Italy

            Turks license produce some avionics which they received as TOT from US,france

          • farm

            In what technology india is excelling missile, tank or aircraft , I think all these technologies are failed

          • MT

            1. Does turkey produce aircraft engine???
            India have produced 2-3 engines including cruise missiles & it has been running turbofan program for 3 decades

            2. What is turkey research contribution in defence technology??
            Its not even in top 10 list while India ranks 6th

            3. does turkey make SLBM,ICBM.AAM,BVRM,SAM??

            => all it has is some chinese short range BM and it recently tied up with german to make HISAR missiles

            4. Does turkey produce VLS—Vertical launching system for SAM/BM???
            India does 2-3 types of VLS

            5. Does turkey produce nuclear submarine, destoryers, aircraft carriers??
            => India produces all of it

            6. Where is turkey missile program??
            => India is among top 5 nation in space race. It delivered 20 satellites from multiple payload adpater in different orbit and it 1st asian country to reach mars

            7. What is native turkish contribution in Altay tank production??
            => All we see is licensed produced south korean tank with german subsystems

            8. When did turkey produce a fighter aircraft??

            => India atleast have built tejas in house

    • Mohsin E.

      Pakistan sees Turkey as the only country in the Middle East with the capacity for leadership, and will support it’s rise. The Arabs and Persians will be very annoyed, but hopefully we will withstand the pressure and do the right thing, for the good of the region. Our military understands the issue and has maintained a good relationship with Turkey for this reason, despite Iran playing spoiler, messing up the land-link between our countries.

    • Navid lahori

      Slow down.we used to say the same ” brotherly” things about S Arabia and U A E and look where the relationships are now.In the world of strategic politics all relationships are subject to national interest of the day.

      • Freebird

        Navid, sorry to hear that. During Turkish war of independence, poor Muslims in British Indian Colony collected money to support Turks. That’s one thing we will never ever forget. I cant talk for every Turk but personally i am ready to even fight for Pakistan.

  • Syed Arbab Shah

    These discussions makes me wonder:

    1. How long can we keep India at bay?
    2. How much more we have to spend / sacrifice, to keep India at bay?
    3. How many more people, millions of them, will be thrown into POVERTY, to keep India at bay?
    4. If China is competing against America and India is competing against China, than how DARE can Pakistan dream of going against India? Aren’t we out gunned and out classed here or simply out of our leagues here?
    5. If it’s the TECHNOLOGY that has the edge, then how can we establish that edge, when India is ALWAYS going to be ahead of us, no matter how much China is willing to help us?

    6. For how long, should we as a nation, CONTINUE “TO EAT GRASS”?

    • MT

      sensible questions.

      Pakistan can live at peace if it ceases expansionary policy against india

      • bla bla

        Pakistan has to aggressive against India otherwise after Kashmir it will ask for Balochistan and than Karachi

    • Navid lahori

      What is the point your questions would like to lead us to?.

    • Syed Bushra

      1. Its called nuclear deterrence and its working great for Pakistan. Money well spent!
      2. Defence spending creates jobs and its an effective tool in foreign policy.
      3. India has more poor people than the whole of Africa.
      4. Pakistan is the most populous Islamic republic, I say we aim high. I absolutely see Pakistan as a major economy of the 21st century.
      5. India is far behind China on almost all social and technological indicators. For peace sake, to this day low-caste Indians are being beaten over cow deaths: https://www.yahoo.com/news/low-caste-indians-beaten-over-dead-cow-102755926.html?ref=gs
      6. We eat beef in Pakistan, a lot. You’ll find vegetarians across the border in India.

      P.s. Another coward Indiot troll trying to hide behind name his call center name.

      • MT

        But India is not spending 25% of their budget on defence & spening all money to buy nukes.
        Indian military budget is very much moderate.

        India spends 2-4 times more % funds on education, R&D, healthcare as compared to pakistan

        Pakistan is lacking behind africa in technology & education–It is ranked bottom 10 in innovating countries.

        • Syed Bushra

          1. Pakistan spent 3.5% of its GDP on defence in 2015 and only 2.3% in 2016: http://nation.com.pk/columns/25-May-2016/pakistan-s-defense-budget

          In fact, Pakistan’s defense budget is the lowest in the region. You are obviously thinking of India, a country addicted to imported weapons and carries the sad distinction of “world’s biggest importer of weapons”.

          2. Spending hundreds of billion of dollars on imported weapons while poor farmers in India starve to death or commit suicides doesn’t sound “moderate”. It is actually quite harsh for the poor people of India, which there are plenty. My sincere sympathies with the families of over 100,000 Indian farmers who have committed suicide.

          3. Unfortunately, India doesn’t spend enough on toilets and sanitary facilities. In fact, 60.4% Indians have no access to toilets. This according to Indian news sources: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/india-has-60-4-per-cent-people-without-access-to-toilet-study/

          If only Indian politicians stop hating Pakistan and start loving their people, they can focus on taking care of their people rather than becoming the biggest importers of weapons.

          • MT

            1000000 of indian suicides so do farmers .
            by the way pak defence budget is much more than what ur official claims.

            stop lying abt 2.3%. pak official def budget is 9bill$ while gdp is less than 300 bill$

          • MT

            1. Pak official defence budget is 8.6 bill$ & gdp is 285 bill$
            Can you calculate % which is 860/285 which is 3%

            This doesnt even include your nuclear program and other pension funds

            2. Pakistan tax to gdp ration is abysmal poor in region & it stands at 10+% while its 18% for India

            so now u realize how much money do u spend as % of budget

            3. Indian budget has higher allocation for health care and education as compared to pakistan in terms of %. google can help you:)
            4. Indian railway budget is alone 45 bill$ which is more than total budget of pakistan

            5. Indian govt have built 20 mill toilets in last 2yrs
            people in rurar areas dont like to use it

            6. India is among top 6 countries in global manufacturing capabilities
            as per size of economy.
            India produces nuclear reactors, missiles, aircraft while pak mostly assemble chinese stuffs

            Pak cant even make railway engine, coal plant,hydel power on its own

            Its among bottom 10 countries in innovation while india ranks among top 65 countries

          • Syed Bushra

            1. GDP is based on investments, government spending, net imports, and net exports, among other indicators. How you came up with $285 billion figure for 2016 GDP of Pakistan when third and fourth quarter earning reports are not even in is a reflection of your rudimentary understanding of the financial system. Please stay in school.

            P.s. Even with your own rudimentary understanding, hopefully you can try to grasp 3% ≠ 25%.

            2. Of course, our nuclear program is a civil program overseen by Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) and National Command Authority (NCA). It has a military component but its first and foremost a civil program. Accordingly, its backed by public investment in enormous nuclear research institutions like PINSTECH, PIEAS, New Labs, NDC etc. and nuclear power generation complexes like CHASNUPP and KANUPP.

            3. Indian health spending is almost tragic and a sad story, I will refrain from commenting on it instead I will let your countrymen speak:

            • India slashes health budget, already one of the world’s lowest
            http://reut.rs/13tejTc

            • Public expenditure on health at a dismal low
            https://shar.es/1wq49N

            • Health Budget Figures Tell a Sick Story
            http://thewire.in/24924/health-budget-figures-tell-a-sick-story/

            4. On the flip side, India has more poor people than the entire continent of Africa.

            5. Then provide toilet training to Indians living in rural areas. Lack of toilets is also a major issue in cities like Mumbai where people take to the beach due to lack of toilets: https://youtu.be/ixJgY2VSct0

            India has more than 1.3 billion people, 60.4% of whom lack access to toilets. That’s 785 million Indians. 20 million is nothing since at this pace, India will take another 78 years just to provide Indians with access to toilets.

            6. The reality is India is the world’s largest importer of weapons while poverty is rife in India. The current Indian government led by Modi has been labeled anti-poor, anti-peasant, anti-student, anti-farmer, and anti-middle class. Again, not my words. This is what Indians are saying:

            • Modi tries to shake off ‘anti-poor’ label (FT)
            • Narendra Modi Government is Anti-Farmer, Anti-Poor (NDTV)
            • Narendra Modi government anti-students, anti-poor (Times of India)

  • MT

    Thats why India have good relations with all neighbors.No neighbor including china,bangladesh,nepal,bhutan accuse india of using non state actors while the neighbor who claim to possess best intelligence agency openly brag about harboring Afghan taliban,haqaani,jaish and LeT.
    Such is the respect earned in last 20 yrs that World including UN/US/EU & higher than himalaya/deeper than pacific friend china dont even pay any attention to pakistan govt claims on internal terrorism while full world saw how top taliban leaders including past/present taliban chief have lived in pkistan & continue to operate with complete support of deep state.

    India is very much known as a soft state. No country with 4 times powerful military & 8-9 times stronger economy would have tolerated a weak incompetent state openly waging war.

    Anyway, the soft Indian govt exposed pak claims on abduction of an Indian citizen from Iran with help of Sunni militant group operating in Iran balochistan having close tie up with your intelligence agency.

    Pak is not ready to provide consular access of him while India after have killed 70 foreign terrorist near LOC mainly from Pakistan’s LeT & Jaish in last 7 months–
    2-3 Pakistani origin (primarily from Punjab)LeT intruders non state actors were caught red handed with Kalashnikov in last 12months near LOC but pak even fails to even accept their mujahideen.

    Pak is no position to change status quo with India. You can try any policy but india is too strong for pak. From all major indicators the spectrum of political,economic,military,technological difference are only here to widen for 2020,2030,2050 projections.

    But nobody can help change attitude of a security state which believes in insanity of doing the same actions and expecting different results since 70 long years & it can continue for another 100 yrs but results would not change

    • Mohsin E.

      In Nepal, they burn effigies of Modi. In Bhutan, the Indian separatist insurgents have base camps. In Bangladesh, even after India fostered its birth, they still don’t trust India. In Sri Lanka, they’re moving ever closer to China, while China itself is encircling India with whom it has fought a war. There’s no deep bonds or friendships that India has with any society, not even its own, with all its divisions.

      I do agree about the “soft state” part though… It’s so super soft that it will most likely never overcome its basic red-tape bureaucratic mindset and achieve its full potential (according to American think tanks like Stratfor.) Instead of poverty reduction, it will remain an unequal society with vast poverty. It won’t get anywhere near the level of success enjoyed by China, with whom it shared a similar starting point at its birth. It’s internal divisions will continue to cripple the center’s authority, reducing FDI potential and growth for the foreseeable future, as predicted by those like George Friedman.

      In any case, this rattling bores me… It’s a waste of time. Let’s move on..

  • Ayush

    kashmir is legally ours and east pakistan is bangladesh now

  • Syed Bushra

    Overall, this is a great development if you ask me.

    Given access to US military industrial complex, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to become self-reliant. We probably end up like one of the GCC states that relies entirely on Washington for its defence.

    As far as the economy is concerned, Nawaz Sharif’s business acumen has put Pakistan back on track. The new special economic zones (SEZ), Gawadr, infrastructure spending, power generation spending etc. CPEC truly is a game changer.

  • zain

    Pakistan should join Russian coilation’s fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq with their squadron of JF17 to test further this jet in real battle environment. Co ordination with This alliance will not only help improve this jet further but will also prove battlefield usefulness of this jet. This will also open options for sales of these jets to SYRIA, IRAQ, & Lebanon.

  • Mohsin E.

    The projections of India’s stunted growth are from Stratfor and Geopolitical Futures, two US based think tanks to which I subscribe. I’m not even using any Pakistani sources. As for India’s “excellent relations,” everything I listed previously is true, feel free to ignore it.

    • MT

      GST reform ll push indian gdp by 1-2% from 2019: s&p says

      india hv jumped 16 ranks from 81 to 66 on global innovation index 2016. china indeed is ranked 25th.pak ranked 119 which is poorest in s asia/cen Asia
      I agree that india has missed the boat of rising as manufacturing powerhouse but it ll do good if it can become self sufficient

      pakistan is pulling region down as it has no vision, no hope & wishes to remain stuck in narrow minded religious cause with the only uni dimensional aim to deter rise of india without caring for its own well being

      world hv already started to ignore pakistan

      • Mohsin E.

        Ok dude, good luck with your self-sufficiency or whatever etc. Can you stop trolling me now, cuz this is really boring me… Why don’t you go play with that Jigsaw guy? he’s the one who does this kinda thing…

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