A high-level Qatari delegation led by the Minister of State for Defence Affairs Dr. Khalid ibn Mohammed al-Attiyah has echoed the Government of Pakistan’s call for strengthening defence ties between Doha and Islamabad (Associated Press of Pakistan).
The Associated Press of Pakistan reported that Minister al-Attiyah had “acknowledged” the potential for the two countries to engage in defence industry joint-ventures.
The Pakistan Minister of Defence (MoD) Khawaja Asif had also thanked Qatar for transferring surplus Westland Sea King utility helicopters and a Sea King simulator unit to the Pakistan Navy. Qatar had also inked a purchase for eight Super Mushshak basic trainers from Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC).
In addition to meeting with the MoD and Minister of Defence Production (MoDP) Rana Tanveer Hussain, Dr. al-Attiyah also met with the Pakistan Army Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif (APP).
In a bid to formalize the two countries’ commitment to enhanced defence cooperation, the MoDP had urged his Qatari counterpart to establish the “Joint Commission for Defence Technical Cooperation” as well as draft a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jointly cooperate in a range of areas, including the production of ordnance/munitions, tanks, aircraft, and maritime technologies (MoDP).
The MoDP also reportedly opened the table to raising trilateral defence industry relations between Qatar, Turkey, and Pakistan (Anadolu Agency). Multiple media reports have also claimed that Qatar is interested in the AVIC-PAC JF-17 Thunder lightweight multi-role fighter.
Notes & Comments:
Doha and Islamabad enjoy cordial defence relations, with the former tapping into the latter’s experience pool for training and capacity building on a regular basis. The training and capacity building aspect should grow in parallel with Qatar’s defence modernization and expansion efforts.
Pakistan’s desire to export big-ticket items of its own, such as the JF-17 Thunder, is not a secret. Reports have placed the JF-17 in the prospect pool for replacing Qatar’s aging Dassault-Dornier Alpha Jet lead-in fighter-trainers and ground attack aircraft. However, with Qatar’s access to a wide range of Western or Westernized options, such as the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) T-50 or FA-50 Golden Eagle, the JF-17’s prospect for securing a sale with Doha is low.
That said, the scope for cooperation is not inherently limited. The Pakistani MoDP’s language indicates that Qatar is interested in building a domestic defence industry (which would be natural considering that much of the region is already moving in that direction). In this respect, Doha’s interest in the same areas of interest to Pakistan – and Turkey – could lead to possible collaboration between these three countries. In turn, this could result in greater scale and wider distribution of development funding commitments. Granted, there is much to be decided and implemented before such relationship could have a reasonable chance of coming to fruition.