As India begins to integrate the first batch of Rafale fighter jets, alarm bells have started ringing in Pakistan. Even without the game-changer Rafale jets in its fleet, India faced no qualms against the Pakistani Air Force. The poor state of the Pakistani Air Force has been further exacerbated as France starts delivering the Rafale jets which will give India a strategic edge against both Pakistan and China. After knocking all doors and returning empty-handed, something which has become the norm under the Imran Khan government, Islamabad is now looking to procure fighter aircrafts from Beijing which will further plunge Pakistan into the Chinese debt-trap.
India’s Rafale purchase has not gone down well in Pakistan and has made the country jittery and Pakistanis are desperately looking to buy fighter aircraft from China. The arrival of two squadrons of the Rafale fighters will be a game-changer for India as it will gain a strategic advantage in the region and hence in desperation, Pakistan has sounded out China for 30 J-10CE fighters and the PL-10 and PL-15, short-range and long-range air-to-air missiles, which will only increase Pakistan’s debt with China.
This development comes after Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visits Moscow where Russia pledged to not supply arms to Pakistan. In the past, Russia had supplied half a dozen helicopters to Pakistan, but, when India objected to it, Moscow instantly pulled the plug out of the deal. In July, the Russian government had rejected Pakistan’s request to buy new-generation Kalashnikov rifles, commonly known as AK, assuring India that there will not be any military deal with Islamabad.
Another major defence exporter, France over the years has grown increasingly closer to India and the Rafale deal has further cemented the ties between India and France. It is highly unlikely that France would engage with Pakistan for the supply of arms and ammunition, especially after the Rafale deal. The controversy around Charlie Hebdo is the latest flashpoint in relations between Pakistan and France which are currently on a downward spiral.
Thousands in Pakistan have marched for anti-France protests in the wake of Charlie Hebdo’s decision to republish cartoons of the Prophet — with the French magazine being a target of a deadly massacre by Islamist gunmen in 2015.’
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry has also condemned Charlie Hebdo’s decision to reprint the cartoons with the French government determined to uphold the freedom of expression of its citizens.
While Russia and France have junked Pakistan for good, the biggest setback for Islamabad comes from the Trump-led USA which sees Pakistan as a terrorist country with the US gradually going ever closer to India. Washington has severely cut its funding to Islamabad and is increasingly treating Pakistan as a rogue state.
It seems that China is the last and sole option for Pakistan to import sophisticated weaponry as all major defence exporters have shunned Pakistan.
Over the years, China-made equipments have made a name for themselves for being cheap quality products and Chinese defence equipments is no different as the majority of their arms and ammunition are made by reverse-engineering Russian defence equipment.
It remains to be seen whether China which is Pakistan’s only friend and patron left accepts its request for purchasing more fighter jets and missiles especially given the fact that Pakistan already has a huge outstanding with China. Rafale has triggered Islamabad to further fall into Chinese debt. Pakistan’s default is just being accelerated.