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Pakistan's military partnership with China takes toll on its debt-ridden budget

With the United States cutting off Pakistan’s defence funding, China has swooped in with both weapons and tactics in an attempt to make sure the Imran Khan-led country continues to pose a security challenge to India.

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Pakistan's military partnership with China takes toll on its debt-ridden budget
By and large, China is now the chief supplier of weapons to Pakistan from 2015 to 2019. (File photo)
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With the United States cutting off Pakistan’s defence funding, China has swooped in with both weapons and tactics in an attempt to make sure the Imran Khan-led country continues to pose a security challenge to India.

Pakistan, which is surviving on loans from its allies, former allies and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is largely run from Rawalpindi, the headquarters of its powerful military, and not from Islamabad.

So, Khan’s tall claims on austerity fall flat as Pakistan's military hasn’t seen any major cuts to its budget. In fact, it bought arms in large quantities from China in 2019. By and large, China is now the chief supplier of weapons to Pakistan from 2015 to 2019 with 73 per cent of the latter’s arms supply coming from China.

In July, China agreed to supply four attack drones to Pakistan. In December 2019, they struck a deal to supply 236 Howitzer guns. They signed a contract worth $512 million.

Another agreement was signed to overhaul Pakistan's main battle tank. Reportedly, Pakistan may also get the Chinese JH-7 jets to boost air power.

All other suppliers --- have a single-digit share and Chinese military support is not just limited to arms.  The People's Liberation Army (PLA) is also training with Pakistan's soldiers.

In January, the navies of China and Pakistan conducted a nine-day mega naval exercise called the ‘Sea Guardians 2020’. The drills were carried out in the northern Arabian sea.

A month before that, the warrior seven joint military drills were held in Pakistan. In August 2019, the air forces conducted the Shaheen eight military exercise in the Chinese city of Holton, which is close to the Indian border near Ladakh.

Last year, both sides decided to take their relationship to the next level with Pakistan’s Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa visiting Beijing. He met with Xu Qiliang, the vice-chairman of the central military commission, which is China’s top military body.

China and Pakistan are now sharing military intelligence, too. Recently, a Pakistani general was invited to attend a highly restricted meeting of the central military commission with an effort to enhance cooperation on Afghanistan.

China’s military support to Pakistan is expanding in all directions --- from selling firepower to sharing intelligence --- the dragon is building another defence force on India's western border.

As Pakistan turns into a colony for China, the country's army is being readied as a surrogate fighting force for Beijing.

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