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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Defense cooperation between Pakistan and Italy on the rise

News Analysis |

General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chairman JCS Committee, is on an official visit to Italy called by  General Claudio Graziano, Chief of the Italian Defense General Staff, at the Defense General Staff Headquarters.

During the meeting, matters of bilateral interests including defense and security cooperation were discussed.

The Chief of Italian Defense Staff acknowledged Pakistan’s achievements in the war against terrorism and efforts for regional peace and stability.

Moreover, General Claudio Graziano also awarded with the  “Defense General Staff Joint Commendation Medal.” This meeting was a continuity of the ongoing bilateral talks between the two countries.

In the last few years, Italy and Pakistan have been discussing the matters of mutual interest which include counter-terrorism, counterinsurgency, defense production, and regional stability and security.

With this in mind, the Pakistan-Italy defense relation is on the rise. The high level officials from both the countries have traveled to conduct constructive meetings to consolidate and take forward the military and strategic bilateral relationship.

Italy has shown a willingness to engage with Pakistan at a time when Pakistan’s defense relationship with Western suppliers remain precarious.

In October 2017, Pakistan and Italy held the 11th Pakistan-Italy Joint Committee on Defense Systems (JCDS) meeting in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.  On that occasion, the Italian delegation was led by Lt. Gen. Nicolò Falsaperna, the Deputy Secretary General of Defense and the Deputy National Armaments Director.

Following the meeting in the twin-city, on the invitation of the the Italian Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti, Minister for Defense Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan visited Italy on a 3-day visit. In order to deepen and widen the Pak-Italy defense and strategic cooperation, he held one-to-one meetings as well as delegation-level talks with his counterpart.

Read more: Pakistan Navy Shows off state of the art naval vessels in…

The Minister for Defense Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan also had the opportunity to interact with the defense and foreign affairs committees of the Italian Parliament. In September 2016, The Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti met her Pakistani counterpart along with other civil and military leadership in Islamabad. She met with the Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif as well as the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Raheel Sharif.

Prior to this, in 2013, both the countries signed the Strategic Engagement Plan (SEP), an accord for growth in bilateral relations including defense relations.

Italy has shown willingness to engage with the Pakistan defense industry and discussed possible purchases with the country.

Italy has been the leading western supplier to Pakistan. In the 1990s, Finmeccanica (now known as Leonardo) provided radars for the Pakistan Air Force (PAF)’s F-7s and Mirages.  In recent years, Pakistan has been actively purchasing more equipment among which the most notable was the purchase of [approximately $475 million U.S worth] 10 batteries for the MBDA Spada 2000 Plus medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems. This deal with concluded in 2007.

Lately, the Italian defense industry has identified several potential opportunities in Pakistan. Many contracts have been signed in this regard between Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) and Italian Defense companies, especially after the International Defense Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS), which was held in Karachi in November 2016.

Read more: Pakistan Vs India: Whose Air Force is more efficent?

In May 2016, under a fleet renewal program, Pakistan selected and ordered four Leonardo AW139 utility helicopter for its emergency medical services and for search and rescue requirements. After the delivery of these helicopter in two batches within 18-months, the government of Pakistan ordered an undisclosed number of additional AW139 intermediate twin-engine helicopters. These machines, which are to be delivered in 2019, can be used for passenger transport, to perform emergency medical and utility service operations across the country.

Other than defense, both countries have also collaborated in the education and development sector.