In this OpEd, Imran Khan advocates for a stronger cooperation between the GCC states and Pakistan especially in defense and economic spheres.
Keeping in view the volatile situation in Middle East and Pakistan, option of “neutrality” does not exist but requires proper actions to tackle it. Pakistan should stand with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and the other way around. It’s not just about Yemen, there is a long history of military cooperation and alliance, but current perilous circumstances asks for bringing it to new levels.
IHS Janes 360 ranked Saudi Arabia number one importer of weapons and defensive systems purchases in the world with over $ 6.4 billion in 2014. While the United Arab Emirates ranked 4th in that list. In March 2015, Qatar announced staggering $ 23 billion defense contracts with various global companies. Qatar also plans to buy 24 Rafale fighter jets from France. GCC states, during first 5 years of Obama presidency, have made over $64 billion of formal agreements of arms imports from USA. Offers of around $15 billion have been made with Saudi Arabia for years 2014 and 2015.
Apart from buying weapons from USA, Europe or from any other countries, GCC states could turn their focus on independence in defense capabilities also. Self-reliance in military hardware and software is most important and the best way to achieve this, is through mutual cooperation in research & development with other countries. Historical military cooperation suggest, Pakistan and GCC can help each other in it.
However, it will require plenty of thinking and strategy but it can be done. USA-Europe, China-Pakistan, Russia-India, USA-Israel are just few examples of success stories of mutual cooperation and help in development of better military competency. Everything has to be started from somewhere, and in last 20 years , despite immense internal and external challenges, Pakistan have shown significant achievements in this area. The only Nuclear Power in the Muslim world, sophisticated medium to long range Missile technology, development of its own Fighter Jet, Armed Drones and Cruise Missiles sits at the top the long list of success and technological advancements.
It is often portrayed in Western media – without any proof though- that Saudi Arabia would buy Pakistani nukes at the time of need. This is a self-created unprecedented propaganda of buying and selling of nuclear weapons as the horizon of military alliance and cooperation between any two countries would be extremely vast. This is not possible that a country would get or buy a nuclear bomb from any other country and then its defense would become invincible. USA provides military assistance to Israel, Japan and South Korea, does it means it has sold them nuclear weapons? The reality is that cooperation goes in many fields of defensive systems between countries at various mutually agreed levels.
Recently China and Pakistan have signed agreements of $ 46 billion on China-Pakistan economic corridor. There is a great need that Gulf Cooperation Council and Pakistan do the same kind of agreements in terms of military cooperation and development, which will be beneficial for all.
It is also true that the hard-earned technological superiority of West in arms industries cannot be challenged anytime soon, but there has to be a start at some point. Consistency, hard work, determination and with the passage of time, things do change and improve. China-Pakistan military cooperation is a great example of it.
It is a Law of nature and history has repeatedly shown us that those nations which will not change in accordance with the needs of Time, Time will change them with utter brutality. And now the Time demands for more unity, cooperation and wise decisions.
United States of America and Europe will do what suites them best according to their own interests and needs, we have witnessed that how USA and UK left Iraq in middle of absolute chaos and destruction and they will do the same in future also, but its GCC and Pakistan which are in the eye of storm, they have to do it themselves and make strategies according to the dire situation in the region.
For Gulf Cooperation Council states and Pakistan military closeness, cooperation with research and development must be a top priority. In longer term, this will not only enhance their defensive capabilities but will have a positive economic impact too.
(Imran Khan is an Internationally Acclaimed English Article Writer/Researcher/Analyst and also working as Senior Assistant Director (Finance) in National Electric Power Regulatory Authority.)