Vanguard (Lagos)

11 October 2008

Nigeria: We Have Trained a Lot of Officers - Pakistani Defence Minister

interview

Pakistan Defence recently celebrated its day in Abuja which many defence representatives from other countries including Nigeria attended.

In this interview, the Pakistan Defence Adviser Colonel Abid Hussain Bhatti talks about the capacity and varity of Pakistan defence industries, its relationship with other countries especially Nigeria.

He believes that Nigeria and Pakistan have a lot to share in developing the country's defence industry, especially in the security of the Niger Delta region.

Sir, what would you say about Pakistan Defence Industry?

We have large standing army and considerable size of air force and navy. Pakistan army is also the biggest platoon leader to involve in peace keeping. It is also a development of global war against terrorism nowadays.

Pakistan defence industries are today not only producing sciences and airspaces, but are bound to producing the latest jet fighters AS-17 in cooperation of China. Yet the bottom line is that we all stand united for peace with the warring community. Pakistan, Nigeria defence cooperation is also expanding specially in the field of training officers.

How strong is Nigeria, Pakistan relationship?

I think Nigeria, Pakistan defence relationship is very good at the moment. This year Nigeria has sent a number of officers to Pakistan for training, which is much higher than last year, and also many senior officers have gone to the higher institution in Pakistan for training, which is highly fine. Also we are going beyond training, we going into cooperation to see the possibility of doing other things with Nigerian arm forces.

What has Pakistani army contributed towards the development of the country?

I think Pakistan army is one of the most important institutions for the stability of the country and it has greatly contributed in the developing of the internal security of the nation. Army is providing communication to the civilian. I think it is one of the institutions that are contributing heavily to the development of the country.

What is the role of Pakistan army in fighting global war on terrorism?

At the moment the Pakistan army biggest commitment is fighting global war against terrorism. As you know we have a significant present on the packman boarder. Over 115,000 troops are deployed there and they are all working in cooperation with the Allied forces, NATO etc. it think it is a big contribution to the world peace and to the global war against terrorism. Pakistan army and the security forces have made a lot of sacrifices in this war.

How do you think Pakistan can collaborate with Nigeria in building up its defence industry?

We have accepted that our cooperation should broaden but we should be able to cooperate in the defence industries and share our know-how with our Nigerian friends. We should be able to transfer the technology we have to our Nigerian friends and capability that we have. Pakistan defence industry is quite capable.

We have started making the latest fighter jet in the world. We should share with our friends this technology and technological ends with Pakistan engineers and technicians and this will make the relationship grow.

Any plan on ground to achieve this?

Yes we have already made approach to the competent authorities here in Nigeria ministry of defence and their counterparts, but you know these things take a lot of time and we are hopeful that it will grow to the positive direction. Pakistan has many things to offer to Nigerian army like training, use of equipment, peacekeeping operation, and deployment.

We have many things we can share from each other. We can learn from Nigeria and Nigeria can learn from us.

The problem in the Niger Delta has become a security issue; do you think that cooperation with the Pakistan defence can make any changes?

I think everybody knows that the problem in the region is a major issue for Nigeria arm forces. They are doing it well.

We have also been confronted with militancy in some part of packban boarder, which is mainly coming from Afghanistan. Nigeria army can do a lot with Pakistan army and we can offer training in internal security of the region, we can offer security equipment, which can be useful in the Niger Delta situation, and I find a lot of cooperation there.

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