ISLAMABAD - The Senate Standing Committee on Defence Production on Wednesday expressed its concerns over the Basic Exchange Cooperation Agreement (BECA) between Washington and New Delhi that will allow India and US to share geospatial information, enable interoperability of forces and acquisition of armed drones. 

The senate body asserted that even though this measure had been portrayed as a deterrent for China, yet Pakistan and the rest of South Asia stood to lose. Chairman Committee Senator Lt. General (Retd) Abdul Qayyum HI (M) was of the view that the agreement would play an important role in realizing the Indian ambition of becoming the regional hegemon and would destabilise the strategic regional equilibrium with severe consequences for Pakistan. A resolution was also passed unanimously in this regard. 

Besides, the Senate Standing Committee on Defence Production in its meeting here at the Parliament House was briefed in detail about the progress of Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT).  Business Development Plans and details of research projects were also shared. While being briefed on the work and progress of the HIT, the Committee was informed that the aim of this enterprise was to manufacture, rebuild, upgrade and carryout R&D of armoured vehicles. It was informed further that HIT could vastly be categorised into three sections including manufacturing factories, rebuild plants and support facilities. Manufacturing units involve tank and gun manufacturing facilities and Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) production. The Tank manufacturing facility has to its credit numerous 3rd generation auto-tracking tanks. It has successfully manufactured Tank Al-Khalid, T85IIAP and T69IIMP.  

The Committee was informed that VT-4 tanks, with enhanced night combat capabilities would be inducted soon. HIT’s APC facility manufactures M113 Family of Armoured Personnel Carriers using state-of-the-art Computer Aided Design (CAD). The Gun Manufacturing Factory produces tank barrels and complete tank guns. Upgrade of manufacturing facilities for Artillery Gun Barrels is in process. Rebuild Plants include Heavy Rebuild Factories designed to modernise and upgrade tanks and Armoured Recovery Vehicles. Track Vehicles and Armoured Personnel Carriers fall under this ambit as well. The Advance System Rebuild Factory supports the tank rebuild mission of HIT and carries out Research and Development in the field of fire control systems, optronics and thermal imaging. Electronics and electric sub systems are also included. Support facilities at HIT involve development of engineering support and component manufacturing, the committee was briefed further. The officials said that HIT is the backbone engineering facility that has been engaged for indigenous development as well.  

Discussing HIT’s commercial and business plans, the Committee was informed that since its inception, HIT has contributed to various commercial activities. During the last five years, HIT has deposited a sum of Rs1.18 billion on account of sales, proportionate costs and taxes to the government exchequer. In addition to this, savings accrued by HIT through sale of commercial products to law-enforcement agencies of Pakistan amount to Rs9.21 billion. 

The Committee was informed that the facility is in the process of devising a costing mechanism to enhance man-machine hours to improve productivity. A commercial company Margalla Heavy Industries Ltd has been registered with SECP in September 2020 while the operations are likely to begin in November 2020. 

Chairman Committee, Senator Lt. Gen (Retd) Abdul Qayyum HI (M), while lauding the enthusiasm of HIT, said that the Organization had great potential for growth. He however, was of the opinion that HIT must step up efforts to spread forth its activities beyond borders and move towards international horizons. He said this would benefit the country greatly thereby subsidising the Defence Budget; essential for the growth of underdeveloped sectors in Pakistan. He further stressed the need for taking on board marketing professionals to seize international markets so that this goal is achieved within stipulated time.

To avoid duplication of efforts and enhance research abilities, Senator Lt. Gen (Retd) Abdul Qayyum asserted the importance of knowledge sharing amongst similar organizations and market players.  While procuring goods and services from abroad, the Committee underlined the need to explore local markets, including the private sector in Pakistan.  

The meeting was also attended by Senator Nuzhat Sadiq, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak, Senator Muhammad Akram, Senator Anwar Lal Dean, Senator Pervaiz Rashid, Senator Abdul Ghafoor Haideri and senior officers of the Ministry of Defence Production along with all concerned.