London exhibition controversy: Pakistan says no brochures listed cluster munitions

Published: September 21, 2011
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Contrasting claims surface as debacle termed ‘a possible minor omission’. PHOTO: POF

Contrasting claims surface as debacle termed ‘a possible minor omission’. PHOTO: POF

KARACHI: 

The highly embarrassing episode of two Pakistani exhibition stands being shut down at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) event in London has passed by without any questions raised as to who was responsible.

The Defence Export Promotion Organisation (DEPO) pavilion and Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) stand were both closed by the DSEI after it emerged that the products being offered contravened UK Government Export Controls and the event’s contractual requirements. The product in question was cluster munitions, which were listed on the POF’s promotional material.

According to an attendee at the three-day event, which was held last week, the cluster munitions were only noticed on the evening of the third day, when Green Party Member of Parliament Caroline Lucas saw them listed on the brochures and “created a huge fuss”. The pavilion representative appeared “entirely clueless” and could not adequately respond to Lucas’ objections.

“They were running around like headless chickens,” the attendee said. “They did not understand the weapons or the impact that this would have on the country’s profile.”

By the next morning, the event organisers had shut down the DEPO pavilion and POF stand, which also meant that other private companies, which were part of the Pakistani pavilion, suffered the consequence of the POF and DEPO error.

However, the Pakistan High Commission in London does not believe that this was a mistake, but a possible minor omission. According to Consul-General Nafees Zakaria, there were no brochures as Lucas claimed, nor was the product offered for sale at the stall.

“It was a standard list, not a brochure of POF items, and the ingredients were on it. They have taken it as a breach of contract that DEPO signed with the event organisers. While I haven’t seen the contract, I assumed it must have said that these items could not be listed on any promotional material,” Zakaria said.

Pakistan, Zakaria added, is not a signatory to the relevant Oslo Accord and the UK only ratified it last year. He said the issue has been referred to legal and technical experts in Pakistan, and the high commission’s response will be based on what they have to say.

However, it also appears that no one took immediate responsibility for what transpired in London. The army officers at the event, including POF chairman Lt Gen Shujaat Zamir Dar, reportedly turned on the DEPO pavilion manager and asked why he had not read the literature properly and asked why he did not know that cluster munitions were banned.

The other high-ranking officer at the event was Maj Gen Ijaz Hussain Awan, the director general of the DEPO. Dar could not be reached for a comment, despite several attempts. The secretary of the POF board and director of its export department, Munir Mohsin Syed, was unavailable to speak since he had just returned from London, according to his office.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2011.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Was A Pakistani
    Sep 21, 2011 - 1:46PM

    If there isnt then they should come and show us the brochure that were on the stand. Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli
    Sep 21, 2011 - 6:36PM

    Simple and straight they dont like to see some muslim country with advancment in wmd
    its reserved only for peacefull christian.

    Recommend

  • fahim
    Sep 21, 2011 - 7:49PM

    very shameful

    Recommend

  • khan
    Sep 21, 2011 - 8:38PM

    “According to Consul-General Nafees Zakaria, there were no brochures as Lucas claimed, nor was the product offered for sale at the stall. “It was a standard list, not a brochure of POF items, and the ingredients were on it…”

    What gobbledygook. If you gave a list to a visitor at your stall with a banned item mentioned on it your are asking for it. Semantics doesn’t get anyone anywhere.

    Yes, what a stupid, silly goof up. But then as Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) is part of our Armed Forces they can never be held responsible. It would be extremely unpatriotic to blame our uniformed brothers, so let us blame the civilians. I say off with the head of Pakistan’s High Commissioner in London…

    Recommend

  • Mbn
    Sep 21, 2011 - 9:17PM

    Cluster munitions are clearly displayed and defined in multiple military catalogs, both for national and international use. This isn’t anything new.

    Recommend

  • Mirza
    Sep 22, 2011 - 8:12AM

    As usual it is not our fault and nobody in the establishment should be held responsible. It is false allegation and injustice and hatred toward Pakistan. As usual we are all innocent and the whole brutal Western world is conspiring against Pakistan. It is the primary job of the West to spend all their time and energies against Pakistan, that is why they are so backward and we are so far ahead!

    Recommend

  • Nov 15, 2011 - 5:05PM

    “According to Consul-General Nafees Zakaria, there were no brochures as Lucas claimed, nor was the product offered for sale at the stall.” Why right up to embassy level the denial switch is all ways on? What sort of attitude is this? Remember when first time the match fixing incident came to light in the British press the High Commissioner himself jumped to defend with all his might. But alas the truth came out and people are in jail. It is also interesting to read in the same article that “The army officers at the event, including POF chairman Lt Gen Shujaat Zamir Dar, reportedly turned on the DEPO pavilion manager and asked why he had not read the literature properly and asked why he did not know that cluster munitions were banned.”
    Such blatant lies at the highest level only damage the reputation and credibility of the nation.

    Recommend

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