India reportedly urged France to consider putting a European Union (EU) ban on weapon sales to Pakistan. Important to note, earlier this month, France took over the Presidency of the EU Council for the first time in 14 years. France will hold the presidency until June.
Owing to France’s elevated status in the EU, India urged France to advocate a ban on weapon sales to Pakistan. Indian media reported that the request was made during defence minister-level talks last month. India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met his French counterpart Florence Parly in New Delhi.
According to Indian media reports, the defense minister shared concerns over Pakistan’s “support for terrorism, especially in Jammu and Kashmir.”
India also claimed that Pakistan will transfer European weapons technology to China since both the countries share friendly relations.
As France takes over EU presidency, India urges it to advocate for a ban of EU weapon sales to Pak. Don’t think “human rights” is going to sway them. Tech espionage/ outright stealing of tech by China might. https://t.co/cEQOA5Xv1D
— Kartik Sivaraman (@calm_sutra) January 10, 2022
Important to note, if France exercises its power and imposes an EU ban on Pakistan, then it is possible that European countries will stop supplying weapons to Pakistan. According to reports, Italy is the biggest European weapons supplier to Pakistan. Italian defence exports to Pakistan have jumped from US $194.15 million in 2017 to $762 million in 2018.
Interestingly, France in the past assured India that it will not transfer sensitive weapon systems to Pakistan. However, even if EU slaps a ban on Pakistan, the latter can always turn to China since it shares strong defence ties with the economic giant.
Pak-China defense cooperation
China is the largest supplier of defense systems to Pakistan, including fighter jets, frigates, and submarines. According to reports, Pakistan is now working on a deal with China to acquire Z10ME helicopter gunships. The development came after Pakistan canceled the deal with Turkey for 30 T129 ATAK attack helicopters.
DG ISPR revealed that Pakistan “moved on” from the T-129 deal with Turkey. He also stated that Pakistan will “hopefully” get some gunships from China as negotiations are underway. The Chinese Z-10ME attack helicopter is the equivalent of the Turkish ATAK-2.
If Pakistan and China finalize the deal, then Pakistan will become the first export customer of Z-10ME, just as it was the first foreign customer of the J-10CE. Pakistan approached China for the procurement of the J-10C to counter the Indian Air Force’s purchase of the Dassault Rafale.