Pakistan Table of Contents
Pakistan must look abroad for both material assistance and political support. Its principal tie has been with the United States. When relations were good, this connection meant access to funds, sophisticated weaponry, training, and an enhanced sense of professionalism. When relations were bad, it meant bitter disillusionment and the severing of support at critical junctures. These wide swings of fortune are something to which the Pakistanis have become accustomed, and they recognize that, whatever the provocation, the tie to the United States has too much potential benefit to be discarded lightly.
Relations with China in the early 1990s were less emotionally intense and much more stable. China has been a steady source of military equipment and has cooperated with Pakistan in setting up weapons production and modernization facilities. Within months of the 1965 and 1971 wars, China began to resupply the depleted Pakistani forces. Between 1965 and 1982, China was Pakistan's main military supplier, and matériel has continued to be transferred. In 1989 Pakistan and China discussed the transfer of a nuclear submarine, and China was helpful in developing Pakistan's missile and, allegedly, nuclear weapons programs. But Chinese weaponry was inferior to that supplied by the West and also to what India received from the former Soviet Union and hoped to continue to receive from Russia. The Pakistanis dispatched a military mission to Moscow in October 1992, probably to explore the possibilities of acquiring surplus Russian and East European equipment at cheap prices.
The Pakistani military's close ties to the nations of the Middle East are based on a combination of geography and shared religion. The closest ties are with Saudi Arabia--a sporadically generous patron; much of the equipment bought from the United States during the 1980s, for example, was paid for by the Saudis. The smaller Persian Gulf states also have been sources of important financial support. The flow of benefits has been reciprocated. Beginning in the 1960s, Pakistanis have been detailed as instructors and trainers in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Libya, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. Pakistani pilots, sailors, and technicians have played key roles in some Persian Gulf military forces, and Arabs have been trained both in their home countries and in military training establishments in Pakistan. After unrest in Saudi Arabia in 1979, Pakistan assigned two combat divisions there as a low-profile and apolitical security force. This unofficial arrangement ended in 1987, however, reportedly when Pakistan refused the Saudi demand to withdraw all Shia (see Glossary) troops. Some 500 advisers, however, remained behind. These exchanges had built up close contacts between the forces of Pakistan and the Arab host countries and were profitable to Pakistan and to the individual Pakistanis assigned abroad, who were paid at much higher local pay scales. )
Pakistan has a particular interest in cooperating with neighboring Iran, with which it had occasionally difficult relations after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. In more recent years, however, delegations have been exchanged, and Pakistan has sold military equipment to Iran. Pakistan also has military ties with Turkey and would like to use these, as well as its Iranian connections, as a bridge to the new Muslim states of Central Asia. When the situation in Afghanistan again becomes normal, Pakistan will no doubt attempt to capitalize on the support it gave the mujahidin by forging close military links to its second-most important neighbor to the west.
Pakistan has sent troops abroad as part of United Nations (UN) peacekeeping efforts. The first such troops served in West Irian (as Indonesia's Irian Jaya Province was then called) in the 1962-63 period. In early 1994, Pakistan contributed two infantry battalions to the United Nations Protection Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNPROFOR BH) and two infantry brigades to the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM). Pakistan's contribution of 7,150 troops to UNOSOM was the largest single national contingent in any UN peacekeeping force in early 1994. At the time, Pakistan also had participating observers in a number of other UN missions in Croatia, the Iraq-Kuwait demilitarized border zones, Liberia, Mozambique, and Western Sahara. Pakistan also dispatched an armored brigade to Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. However, it was assigned well away from the front--ostensibly to defend the holy cities of Mecca and Medina--thus reducing the possibility that any Pakistani troops might have somehow become involved in actual combat with Iraqi troops. Such an eventuality could have proven explosive in Pakistan and could have caused uncontrollable unrest. Pakistani sentiment in favor of Iraq was widespread, and even General Beg spoke out in support of Saddam Husayn. )
Data as of April 1994
Pakistan Table of Contents