Among the successful exports by South Korean industry is the T-50 Golden Eagle. (Lockheed Martin)
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan and South Korea will explore further avenues in defense industry cooperation, according to Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence Production.
Analysts said this latest development likely will include modernization and expansion of Pakistan’s shipbuilding industry, as well as possible warship construction. Pakistan long has had plans to expand its shipbuilding facilities by opening new yards in locations such as Port Qasim and Gwadar.
Pakistan has previously signed deals with South Korea to produce 155mm ammunition and to support its fleet of T-37 Tweet basic trainer aircraft. South Korean defense companies often attend Pakistan’s biannual International Defence Exhibition And Seminar (IDEAS). IDEAS2014 will be held in Karachi in December.
Brian Cloughley, author, analyst and expert on the Pakistani military, and former Australian defense attache to Islamabad, said although South Korea seems to have initiated greater contact lately, Pakistan will be especially keen to improve relations.
“I am sure that Pakistan is extremely interested in cooperating in defense matters with South Korea, which has a high standard of construction and production,” he said.
“Things are obviously at a very early stage, and I doubt that there will be any substantial movement until a South Korean delegation has a very close look at [Pakistan Ordnance Factories], [Heavy Industries Taxila], and [Pakistan Aeronautical Complex] Kamra. Obviously they know exactly what is produced there, but they’ll want to examine quality, hands-on.”
South Korea has had some recent success exporting equipment, including the sale of T-50IQ Golden Eagle training aircraft and numerous defense deals signed with Indonesia, including submarines and armored personnel carriers.
When it comes to pushing defense industry cooperation with Pakistan, however, Sarah Teo, South Korean foreign policy analyst with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technical University, says Seoul’s efforts to engage more with Pakistan in this area are part of wider efforts.
“South Korea’s growing defense equipment exports complements its rise as a middle power. The perception of South Korea as a non-threatening, non-assertive, status quo country helps make it an attractive partner for defense cooperation, especially with countries that are wary of getting entangled in major power dynamics,” she said.
“It also doesn’t hurt that South Korea’s defense industry and technology is perceived to be generally rather impressive,” she said.
South Korea’s interest in increased defense industry cooperation with Pakistan helps promote its desire to be a leader in the developing world, she said.
“South Korea is additionally motivated by its vision of being a model for developing countries who want to follow its development trajectory — one way is to help these countries develop and improve their own defense technology.”
Though there are clear benefits, Cloughley admits there are also possible hurdles but these can be overcome, especially if Pakistan’s defense industry could be restructured.
“There might be small problems in getting together concerning equipment that is China-sourced or influenced, simply on political grounds, but the way is open, and there could be substantial benefits for both countries. Privatization of some aspects of Pakistan’s defense industries would be no bad thing, and South Korea would welcome that.” ■