China replaces US as the main military weapons supplier to Pakistan
*WASHINGTON / ISLAMABAD* - China has become the dominant supplier of weapons to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, according to the latest report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Titled “Trends in International Arms Transfer, 2017” the report reflects on the major change in the geopolitical sphere of South Asia. Weapons sales to Pakistan by the United States have dropped by 76 per cent in the past five years, according to the report.
According to the report, the United States, Russia, Germany, France, and China are currently exporting 74 per cent of the weapons around the globe, which makes them the largest arms exporters globally.
The report said the United States was once the largest exporter of weapons to Pakistan. But recent tensions between the two countries have significantly affected arms sales, particularly from 2013 to 2017, when there has been a large decrease in arms transfers from the US to Pakistan.
Relations between the US and Pakistan deteriorated after a November 2011 incident in which 26 Pakistani troops were killed in NATO attacks on two military checkpoints. Pakistan retaliated by closing both of its borders into Afghanistan, effectively suspending NATO supply convoys through the country to its land-locked neighbour.
The Trump administration has accused Pakistan of supporting militant groups that launch attacks across the border into Afghanistan, accusations that Pakistan denies.
Pakistani officials say geopolitics demand that the country should not be relying on the US only when it comes to security needs.
Talking to *VOA*, Pakistani professor Zafar Jaspal said Pakistan wants to be self-sufficient in making small weapons, and that’s the country’s foremost effort.
“Pakistan’s reliance on just one country has not been a fruitful experience,” Jaspal said. “Therefore, the shift in the foreign policy now demands that the weapon import of Pakistan should be multinational.”
The SIPRI report said China provides 70 per cent of weapons to Pakistan. The US is the second-largest arms supplier with 12 per cent, while Russia is third with 5.7 per cent.
Jaspal said Pakistan is not only importing weapons from China, but the two countries are exchanging technology, as well.