November 15, 2023
ISLAMABAD – BBC Urdu, in an extensive report published on Tuesday, claimed that Pakistan entered into a $364 million arms sales agreement with two private US companies last year. These weapons were allegedly sent to Ukraine for its war with Russia.
The Russia-Ukraine crisis began last year when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the latter’s invasion on February 24.
The Foreign Office has denied any sale of arms and ammunition to Ukraine, saying that Pakistan maintained a policy of “strict neutrality” in the dispute between the two countries and did not provide them with any arms or ammunition in that context.
It must be noted that these alleged developments took place during the rule of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — a multi-party coalition that ousted Imran Khan-led government via a no-trust vote in April last year. The Army chief at the time was Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, who retired in Nov 2022.
During August 2022, when these alleged contracts were signed, the Ukraine crisis was very much a part of the political discourse in Pakistan, particularly in the wake of Imran Khan’s visit to Moscow as prime minister the day the invasion was launched. Months after the visit, Gen Bajwa publicly called for the invasion to be stopped immediately.
During a visit to Pakistan this July, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba had also rejected reports that Pakistan was supplying arms to Ukraine to support its military during the ongoing conflict with Russia.
However, the BBC Urdu, in its report today, claimed that Pakistan signed two contracts with American companies named “Global Military” and “Northrop Grumman” for the sale of 155mm shells.
Dawn.com has reached out to the Foreign Office and Defence Ministry but has yet to receive a response.
Citing details of the contract from the American Federal Procurement Data System, the report alleged these weapons were bought from Pakistan, the contracts were signed in August 2022 and were specifically linked to the purchase of 155mm shells.
It added that a $232m contract was awarded to Global Military while another $131m contract was signed with Northrop Grumman. “These agreements expired last month i.e. October 2023,” BBC Urdu said.
The report alleged that the deliveries were made in a British military cargo plane from the Nur Khan Air Base, which landed in Rawalpindi five times.
The first such plane landed in Rawalpindi the same day former army chief Lt Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa vowed to take Pakistan-UK relations to “historic heights” during an address at the passing-out parade at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, it stated.
“Each time, the plane flew from Nur Khan Airbase to the British military base in Cyprus and then to Romania, that too at a time when Russia was waging war in Romania’s neighbouring country Ukraine,” the report claimed.
In its report, BBC Urdu, while citing further evidence for its claims said data by the State Bank of Pakistan also showed that the country’s arms exports increased by 3,000 per cent during FY2022-23. “Pakistan exported arms worth $13 million in 2021-22, while these exports reached $415 million in 2022-23,” it stated.
The report also quoted a document of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which is a US Department of Defence funding programme designed to increase Ukraine’s defence capability against Russia.
The document, it stated, showed contracts pertaining to the supply of 155mm shells to Ukraine in August 2022. It should be noted that the value of the two contracts for 155mm shells from Global Military and Northrop to Pakistan in August 2022 is also around $364 million, the report highlighted.