New Defense research report from Business Monitor International is now available from Fast Market Research
Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/02/2014 -- Nawaz Sharif took over as prime minister of Pakistan in mid-2013 amid hopes that he could initiate peace talks with the Taliban and reverse the disastrous slide in his country's domestic security situation. In September 2013, Nawaz called an All Parties Conference which gave him the green light to begin negotiating with the Taliban, despite the group's continued insistence that all 150,000 Pakistan Army troops currently engaged in combat operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas should pull out before talks could start. However, Nawaz's plans are already in tatters. A suicide bomber killed 83 people at a church in Peshawar within days of the conference, and the death of Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike a month later makes it seem even less likely that talks could work.
Another key actor in any peace process, the Pakistan Army, is also set for change as General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani steps down as army commander at the time of writing in late November, after an unprecedented six years in charge. Due to the extreme sensitivity of the handover, the government said it would not announce Kayani's successor until the day before his retirement. Nawaz, who was ousted by a military coup during his first stint as prime minister, has assiduously courted Kayani since taking office in May, and he will undoubtedly make sustained efforts to keep his successor on side. He has already promised to increase the defence budget by 10% for the next two years, despite Pakistan's economic problems, so as to avoid any charge that his government is starving the military of funds.
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The military now appears to be gearing up for what will be the biggest procurement programme in its history - the long-delayed acquisition of six new submarines worth up to U$4bn. China is in pole position to secure the contract, but Pakistan has recently signed defence industry collaboration agreements with South Korea and Turkey, and they both have a realistic chance of securing the order.
Another important milestone for the Pakistani defence industry may soon come with a first export order for the JF-17 fighter aircraft, a mainly Chinese design now being manufactured in Pakistan. Recent reports suggest that Kuwait, Qatar and Sri Lanka are all close to placing orders, and Pakistani industry sources have said they are confident of making sales in 2014.
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