In an interview with Sputnik International, the Pakistani military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, discussed a range of issues, including defense cooperation with Russia.
Major General Ghafoor told Sputnik, “We greatly value the relevance and importance of Russia in the region, especially what role Russia has lately played toward the Afghan reconciliation.” He added, “Russia looks toward balance of power and multipolarity in the world. We value Russia’s voice as the voice of reason, and we would love if Russia, being a powerful country, plays its role which enables bringing peace in South Asia and beyond.”
Pakistan would welcome “any third-party mediation,” including Russian mediation, “which can bring peace in the region,” such as in helping to contain tension between Pakistan and India.
According to Major General Ghafoor, new defense deals between Russia and Pakistan may be reached moving forward. He noted that dialogue was centering on aviation, air-defense systems, and anti-tank systems. He did not offer specifics, but added, “Anything and everything, which is possible to be purchased by Pakistan, will be done.”
The Russian friendship with India – one of Russia’s top markets for arms exports – is generally seen as precluding large deals with Pakistan. Nevertheless, Pakistan in recent years has procured Mi-35Ms from the Russian industry, which were on display over the weekend at the Pakistan Day celebrations. The Pakistani military has received four Mi-35Ms to date and is believed to have placed an order for another five late last year.
Pakistan has received delivery of Mi-35s from Russia pic.twitter.com/Hitax8UvuT
— Derek Bisaccio (@DerekBisaccio) April 11, 2018
Furthermore, the JF-17, around one hundred of which have entered Pakistani service, utilizes a Russian-designed engine, the RD-93.
JF-17s may have been involved in an aerial skirmish with India which resulted in the shoot-down of an Indian Air Force MiG-21. While India has claimed Pakistan used American-made F-16s – and produced wreckage of the AIM-120 air-to-air missile to back up the claim – Major General Ghafoor told Sputnik International that “the aircraft which engaged those [Indian] targets and fought them were JF-17.”
Previously, the Pakistani military had denied the usage of the F-16, but had not commented on rumors of the JF-17’s participation. The U.S. is reportedly investigating the circumstances to determine whether Pakistani F-16s were involved and, if they were, whether this violates unspecified agreements between Washington and Islamabad on the aircraft’s usage.
Speaking on the matter of the U.S. investigation, Major General Ghafoor noted, “As regard to how to use F-16, in what context [they] were used or not – because at that point of time our entire Air Force was airborne – now it remains between Pakistan and the U.S. to see how the MoUs regarding the use of F-16 have been adhered to or otherwise.”
Sputnik International noted that the Major General confirmed Islamabad was discussing the issue with Washington.