The world economic crisis has had an impact on virtually everyone. Proceedings asked the commanders of the world's navies: The global economic downturn is obviously affecting the United States and its Navy. How is it affecting your navy's maritime strategy, operation, and force structure?
Admiral Noman Bashir—Pakistan Navy
As the world begins to slowly recover from the worst economic crisis of the last 80 years, I seriously doubt if the global defense industry and forces have the resilience to quickly regain the strength and vibrancy of pre-crisis times. Nevertheless, I am pleased to state that the Pakistan Navy continues to steam ahead in all its earlier plans, despite the crisis. Two reasons account for this. First, the global economic crisis has not directly impacted traditional consumer-based economies of developing nations, which generally rely less on money lending and borrowing. Thus, Pakistan's economy overall remained relatively safe from the crisis fallout. Second, the Pakistan Navy, over a period of time and particularly since the 1990s, has single-mindedly pursued the policy of indigenization to attain self-sufficiency in construction of naval platforms, thereby reducing our dependence on foreign markets, particularly in the West.
We thus continue to pursue all our projects with no changes whatsoever. Our flagship project acquisition of four F-22P Zulfiquar-class frigates, along with Harbin Z-9EC antisubmarine warfare helicopters from China, has seen light of the day in the very thick of the financial crunch. We even remain on track to construct a fourth ship at the Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works for which major refurbishment work has been completed. Additionally, our range of other projects is also progressing satisfactorily, and I remain optimistic for their timely completion. We also have not felt the need for major reviews in our employment strategy or future force goals.
That being so, I must nonetheless admit that the Pakistan Navy has felt the ripple effect of the global economic crisis. Being dependent on foreign equipment manufacturers for maintenance of our existing platforms, we are experiencing problems of spares supportability in terms of rising costs and shipment delays. This has affected our maintenance regimes, and in turn we are forced to undertake only essential ones. We are more resource- and cost-conscious today in all matters than at any time in the past, and the element of cost-benefit analysis figures into all our contracts.
The real issue of concern to the Pakistan Navy has thus not been of global economic crisis. It is rather of the global war on terrorism, which has affected us in multifarious ways. The Pakistan Navy has rendered all out support in Coalition operations in the North Arabian Sea for more than five years. But we had to pay dearly for our contribution to that global war. Besides bearing loss of men and materiel because of acts of terrorism, we are forced to divert our resources to beef up maritime and internal security. This has led us to review and reprioritize our new and future plans, whereby higher priority is now accorded to equipment and systems concerning maritime security.
All in all, it is my considered opinion that the Pakistan Navy has not been so significantly impacted by the global economic crisis. Rather, economic and other negative effects of the war on terrorism have hit it harder. Whatever little effects it has experienced on account of global economic crisis are temporary, and we hope it will soon be over.
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