In a technological leap towards unmanned aerial platforms, Pakistan’s military on Monday inducted its first fleet of indigenously developed surveillance drones.
According to a statement by the Inter-services Public Relations (ISPR), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) named Buraq and Shapar were inducted into Pakistan Army and Pakistan Air Force at a ceremony attended by outgoing army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
Lauding the work of National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM) scientists, General Kayani said that surveillance capable UAVs, developed through indigenous resources, would prove to be a force multiplier for the country’s armed forces and would substantially enhance their target acquisition capabilities in real time.
The ISPR statement further added that the UAVs “could also be gainfully employed in various socio-economic development projects, as well.” However, the ISPR statement did not explain whether the drones were capable of being armed, like the drones being used by the United States in the country’s tribal areas to take out ‘high-value’ targets.
In the past, Pakistan had been seeking transfer of drone technology from the US so that it could carry out operations against the militants in the tribal areas. However, Washington has consistently snubbed Islamabad’s requests.
Commenting on the issue, a foreign ministry official said Pakistan must discourage the use of armed drones as it would set a wrong precedent and lead to new arms race in the region. However, there was no harm in developing drones for surveillance purposes, the official added.
The induction ceremony was also attended by Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt, Chief of the Air Staff, Lieutenant General (Retd) Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, Director General Strategic Plans Division and senior officers from Armed Forces, scientists and engineers.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 26th, 2013.