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Breaking the arms embargo

ghazi52

PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST
Mar 21, 2007
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Pakistan
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Breaking the arms embargo

After Myanmar's armed forces created the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) in September 1988 and took back direct control of the country, they soon assessed that the Tatmadaw faced four main threats:

• renewed outbreak of civil unrest in the main cities caused by pro~democracy demonstrators;

• an upsurge of fighting in the countryside by ethnic, ideological and narcotics-based insurgent groups trying to take advantage of the military regime's serious political and economic problems;

• the possible creation of a partnership between the urban dissidents and ethnic insurgents in an effort to bring down the Yangon regime;

• an invasion by a US-led coalition of countries determined to replace Myanmar's military dictatorship with a civilian democratic government

Given the country's history and the Tatmadaw customary way of tackling such issues, the SLORC's answer was perhaps predictable. It was to crush the urban dissidents as quickly and as ruthlessly as possible. The regime increased the tempo of military operations against those insurgent

groups that seemed most likely to collaborate with the pro democracy movement, such as the Karens. It also began taking military precautions against a possible invasion by the USA and its allies.

These measures placed a premium on a plentiful supply of arms and ammunition, but the Tatmadaw armouries were almost empty. A series of bitter campaigns against insurgent groups around the country's borders had seriously depleted stocks. Also, Myanmar's chronic foreign exchange problems in the years leading up to the pro democracy demonstrations in 1988 had made it hard for the regime to purchase fresh military supplies. Nor could the country's arms factories meet demand.

They lacked the capacity to produce the required materiel in time and faced shortages of critical raw materials, much of which had to be imported. Major new items, like anti aircraft guns, could not be manufactured locally and had to be purchased from abroad. Consequently, the SLORC was forced to seek foreign suppliers who were prepared to turn a blind eye to the regime's record of human rights abuses, and who did not support the arms embargo placed on Myanmar by the West.

Three countries were quick to come to the SLORC's assistance. The first was Singapore. Two shiploads of arms and ammunition were sent to Yangon in October 1988 to fill an urgent order for mortars, small arms ammunition, recoilless rifle rounds and raw materials for Myanmar's arms factories. Israel too seemed prepared (through a Singaporean intermediary) to provide weapons to its old friend and ally (See JlR March 2000, pp35-38). A shipment of captured Palestinian weapons and ammunition (mainly grenade launchers and recoilless guns) arrived in Myanmar in August 1989. Before the Israeli arms arrived, however, the SLORC received at least one shipment of arms and ammunition from Pakistan.

Arms sales P In January 1989 a senior official from Pakistan's government arms industry reportedly visited Yangon to offer the SLORC war supplies. Two months later a group of senior Tatmadaw officers, led by Myanmar Air Force (MAF) Commander-in-Chief Major General Tin Tun, made an unpublicised visit to Islamabad. The delegation also included Myanmar's Director of Ordnance and Director of Defence Industries. According to Bertil Lintner, an agreement was quickly reached for Pakistan to sell 150 machine guns, 50,000 rounds of ammunition and 5,000 120mm mortar bombs to the SLORC.

Soon after the first deliveries were made, unexploded mortar bombs bearing the marks of the government owned Pakistan Ordnance Factory (POF) were recovered by Karen insurgents along Myanmar's eastern border. The Tatmadaw delegadon also inspected Pakistan's aviation industry complex. This led to accusations by Karen insurgents the following May that Pakistan was training MAF pilots, possibly as part of a comprehensive deal to sell Pakistan-built combat aircraft to the SLORC.

Other sales followed. It was probably Pakistan that provided Myanmar with its new 106mm M40A1 recoilless rifles, some of which the Tatmadaw mounted on its 4x4 vehicles. Pakistan also sent the SLORC a diverse collection of mortars, rocket launchers, assault rifles and ammunition valued at about US$20 million. Some of these weapons were made in China and Eastern Europe.

Until the practice was stopped by the USA, many of these weapons were reportedly~,~siphoned off shipments sent to Pakistan for use by the anti-Soviet mujahideen in Afghanistan. Arms sales to the Yangon regime were halted for a period by Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, but were resumed after the 1990 elections by her successor Nawaz Sharif. Indeed, the arms shipments that took place in those critical months of 1989 marked the beginning of a secret military partnership with Myanmar that continues to this day.

Over the past decade additional reports have surfaced that the armed forces and defence industries of Pakistan and Myanmar have developed a close working relationship. Only last year the SLORC's successor, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), purchased two shiploads of ammunition from the POF. These shipments, reportedly valued at $3.2 million, included a wide range of military materiel.

There was: .38 revolver ammunition; 7.62mm machine gun ammunition (and spare barrels for the Tatmadaw MG3 machine guns); 77mm rifle-launched grenades; 16rnm, 82mm and 106mm recoit less rifle rounds; 120mm mortar bombs; 37mm anti-aircraft gun ammunition; 105mm artillery shells; and ammunition for Myanmar's new 155mm long-range guns. The latter included both high explosive and white phosphorous rounds. One shipment even included ammunition for the Myanmar Army's vintage 25-pounder field guns. In addition, Pakistan has provided Myanmar's arms factories with components for ammunition, such as primers, fuzes and metallic links for mad~ine-gun belts.

Pakistan has also been associated with Myanmar's purchase of jet trainers from China.

In June 1998 it was revealed that China would finance a $20 million sale of seven NAMC/PAC Karakorum~ traineM to the MAF. An order for additional aircraft soon followed. About 14 of the two-seater jet trainers have already been delivered to Myanmar's Shante air training base. Myanmar is the first customer of this aircraft Its acquisition considerably increases the MAF's ability to train pilots for its expanding fleet of Chinese F-7 interceptors and A-5 ground attack aircraft. Like Myanmar's G4 Super Galeb jet trainers (grounded due to a lack of spare parts), the K-8 can also be configured for ground attack. The K-8 is manufactured in China, but Pakistan's Aero. nautical Complex has a 25% interest in the project. Albeit indirectly, the sale of these aircraft significantly boosts the level of Pakistan's support for the Tatmadaw's expansion and modernisation programme.

Training and intelligence

Pakistan seems also to have provided Myanmar with a wide range of military training. In the early 1990s there were reports that Pakistan had helped members of the Tatmadaw learn to operate and maintain those Chinese weapon systems and items of equipment also held in Pakistan's inventory. For example, it was rumoured that the Pakistan Air Force (which also operates F-7s and A-5s) was helping its Myanmar counterpart get to grips with its new Chinese fighter aircraft. The Pakistan Army reportedly passed on advice to the Myanmar Army about its Type-69, Type-63 and Type-59 tanks, and its Chinese-sourced artillery. There were also reports that Pakistan Army instructors were based in Myanmar for a period to help train Myanmar special forces and airborne personnel.

While these reports remain unconfirmed, they are given greater credence as a number of Myanmar Army officers are currently in Pakistan undergoing artillery and armour training, and attending Pakistan's Staff Colleges. The MAF and Myanmar Navy also have officers undergoing training in Pakistan. It is possible that Pakistani military personnel have also been sent to Myanmar to help the Tatmadaw learn to operate and maintain its new K-8 jet trainers, and possibly even the 155mm artillery pieces that the SPDC acquired from Israel last year.

Observers have recently suggested that the intelligence agencies of Myanmar and Pakistan have developed a good working relationship. There is some evidence that Pakistan's initial arms shipments to the SLORC in 1989 were facilitated by Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, representing senior members of the Pakistan armed forces. It is also possible that these arms were sent to Myanmar without the knowledge of Prime Minister Bhutto, who had some sympathy for Myanmar's democradc leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Pakistan's price for such assistance would be greater access to information about developments along India's eastern border. Even if bilateral intelligence ties now amount to little more than periodic exchanges of broad assessments and discussions about the activities of major regional powers, such contacts are still important symbols of shared strategic interests.

Strategic imperatives

Pakistan's efforts to increase its military ties with Myanmar and Yangon's interest in encouraging such ties is not unexpected.

For a long time after Myanmar (then Burma) regained its independence in 1948 its relations with Pakistan were quite strained. Friedens along Myanmar's border with East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), territorial disputes, smuggling, illegal immigration and suspected Pakistani aid to Muslim insurgents (known as Mujahids) in Myanmar aggravated tensions.

In the 1960s the Ne Win regime's efforts to expel people of sub-continental extracdon from Myanmar, and to nadonalise most of the country's commerce and industry, added to pressures on bilateral relations. In 1972 Yangon's recognition of the new state of Bangladesh was in the face of strong criticism from Islamabad, which at one stage threatened to break off diplomatic relations. Also, while Myanmar tried to remain neutral in the India-Pakistan dispute, the Ne Win regime's fear of its massive neighbour in the west meant that it usually gave good relations with India a high priority. This was sometimes seen by Pakistan to be at its expense.

Under such circumstances the likelihood of close military ties developing between Myanmar and Pakistan was remote. Before 1962 Tatmadaw officers would occasionally attend the Pakistan Staff College at Quetta, but even those contacts were broken after Ne Win seized power and imposed his isolationist and xenophobic policies on the country.

Pakistan's offer of assistance to the SLORC in early 1989 was dearly an opportunity to move by the Islamabad government to take advantage of Myanmar's straitened circumstances and to outflank India which under Rajiv Gandhi strongly supported Aung San Suu Kyi and the Myanmar pro democracy movement. Although New Delhi later reversed its policy and sought to improve relations with Yangon, Myanmar and Pakistan have come to recognise a nur~number of common interests. In parTIcular, they, both have dose political and military ties with China, and share strategic concerns about India.

Myanmar can also provide intelligence about developments in Bangladesh. In return, Pakistan can help deflect criticism of Myanmar in multilateral forums like the UN. For example, during the late 1980s Pakistan joined China in opposing resolutions against Myanmar in the UN Human Rights Commission. To a lesser extent, Pakistan can also help protect Myanmar's interests with the Islamic countries, who have expressed concern about the treatment of Muslims in Myanmar, including the plight of the Rohingyas in Arakan State.

However, to the SLORC, and now the SPDC, perhaps the greatest practical benefit arising from Myanmar's ties with Pakistan is that of having a willing (albeit secret) supplier of ammunition and spare parts for the Tatmadaw varied inventory of Chinese and Western atms Both countries are heavily reliant on Chinese military technology, arms and equipment. Many of the weapon systems used by Myanmar and Pakistan are the same. The arns inventories of Myanmar and Pakistan are also similar in that they both contain German automatic rifles, light machine guns and ammunition-aU manufactured locally.

Both countries still use (`and in some cases manufacture) older US and UK arms and ammunition, a legacy of their shared colonial heritage and former links to the West. Because of these similarities, and because of its more advanced technical development, Pakistan is also in a position to provide Myanmar's armed forces with the kind of specialist technical training no longer on offer from the Western democracies.

Myanmar's military ties with Pakistan, while reasonably modest, are not without cost. Politicians and strategic analysts in India, have been quick to point out that the common thread that links Yangor~and Islamabad is a dose relationship with China, stiU seen as India's greatest long-term threat. It has been suggested that China is using its des with Pakistan and Myanmar to surround India with compliant states. Some observers have gone as far as to suggest that, in the event of a major confrontation between China and India, Pakistan and Myanmar could be caLLed upon to provide China with support, induding troops.

Such claims have been dismissed by the SLORC and the SPDC as fanciful, flying as they do in the face of Myanmar's deep commitment to independence and neutrality in world affairs. The Yangon regime has invited Indian observers to visit certain military bases to verify that China has not established strategic facilities there (India has not accepted).

• A 106mm M40A1 recoilless rifle, probably provided to Myanmar by Pakistan. Even so, evidence of continuing military links between Myanmar and Pakistan, as represented by the most recent arms sales, will add to the fears of Indian strategic analysts and others with an interest in the region's future stability.

JIR July 2000
 

denel

PROFESSIONAL
Jul 12, 2013
6,303
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10,716
Country
South Africa
Location
South Africa
Breaking the arms embargo

After Myanmar's armed forces created the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) in September 1988 and took back direct control of the country, they soon assessed that the Tatmadaw faced four main threats:

• renewed outbreak of civil unrest in the main cities caused by pro~democracy demonstrators;

• an upsurge of fighting in the countryside by ethnic, ideological and narcotics-based insurgent groups trying to take advantage of the military regime's serious political and economic problems;

• the possible creation of a partnership between the urban dissidents and ethnic insurgents in an effort to bring down the Yangon regime;

• an invasion by a US-led coalition of countries determined to replace Myanmar's military dictatorship with a civilian democratic government

Given the country's history and the Tatmadaw customary way of tackling such issues, the SLORC's answer was perhaps predictable. It was to crush the urban dissidents as quickly and as ruthlessly as possible. The regime increased the tempo of military operations against those insurgent

groups that seemed most likely to collaborate with the pro democracy movement, such as the Karens. It also began taking military precautions against a possible invasion by the USA and its allies.

These measures placed a premium on a plentiful supply of arms and ammunition, but the Tatmadaw armouries were almost empty. A series of bitter campaigns against insurgent groups around the country's borders had seriously depleted stocks. Also, Myanmar's chronic foreign exchange problems in the years leading up to the pro democracy demonstrations in 1988 had made it hard for the regime to purchase fresh military supplies. Nor could the country's arms factories meet demand.

They lacked the capacity to produce the required materiel in time and faced shortages of critical raw materials, much of which had to be imported. Major new items, like anti aircraft guns, could not be manufactured locally and had to be purchased from abroad. Consequently, the SLORC was forced to seek foreign suppliers who were prepared to turn a blind eye to the regime's record of human rights abuses, and who did not support the arms embargo placed on Myanmar by the West.

Three countries were quick to come to the SLORC's assistance. The first was Singapore. Two shiploads of arms and ammunition were sent to Yangon in October 1988 to fill an urgent order for mortars, small arms ammunition, recoilless rifle rounds and raw materials for Myanmar's arms factories. Israel too seemed prepared (through a Singaporean intermediary) to provide weapons to its old friend and ally (See JlR March 2000, pp35-38). A shipment of captured Palestinian weapons and ammunition (mainly grenade launchers and recoilless guns) arrived in Myanmar in August 1989. Before the Israeli arms arrived, however, the SLORC received at least one shipment of arms and ammunition from Pakistan.

Arms sales P In January 1989 a senior official from Pakistan's government arms industry reportedly visited Yangon to offer the SLORC war supplies. Two months later a group of senior Tatmadaw officers, led by Myanmar Air Force (MAF) Commander-in-Chief Major General Tin Tun, made an unpublicised visit to Islamabad. The delegation also included Myanmar's Director of Ordnance and Director of Defence Industries. According to Bertil Lintner, an agreement was quickly reached for Pakistan to sell 150 machine guns, 50,000 rounds of ammunition and 5,000 120mm mortar bombs to the SLORC.

Soon after the first deliveries were made, unexploded mortar bombs bearing the marks of the government owned Pakistan Ordnance Factory (POF) were recovered by Karen insurgents along Myanmar's eastern border. The Tatmadaw delegadon also inspected Pakistan's aviation industry complex. This led to accusations by Karen insurgents the following May that Pakistan was training MAF pilots, possibly as part of a comprehensive deal to sell Pakistan-built combat aircraft to the SLORC.

Other sales followed. It was probably Pakistan that provided Myanmar with its new 106mm M40A1 recoilless rifles, some of which the Tatmadaw mounted on its 4x4 vehicles. Pakistan also sent the SLORC a diverse collection of mortars, rocket launchers, assault rifles and ammunition valued at about US$20 million. Some of these weapons were made in China and Eastern Europe.

Until the practice was stopped by the USA, many of these weapons were reportedly~,~siphoned off shipments sent to Pakistan for use by the anti-Soviet mujahideen in Afghanistan. Arms sales to the Yangon regime were halted for a period by Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, but were resumed after the 1990 elections by her successor Nawaz Sharif. Indeed, the arms shipments that took place in those critical months of 1989 marked the beginning of a secret military partnership with Myanmar that continues to this day.

Over the past decade additional reports have surfaced that the armed forces and defence industries of Pakistan and Myanmar have developed a close working relationship. Only last year the SLORC's successor, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), purchased two shiploads of ammunition from the POF. These shipments, reportedly valued at $3.2 million, included a wide range of military materiel.

There was: .38 revolver ammunition; 7.62mm machine gun ammunition (and spare barrels for the Tatmadaw MG3 machine guns); 77mm rifle-launched grenades; 16rnm, 82mm and 106mm recoit less rifle rounds; 120mm mortar bombs; 37mm anti-aircraft gun ammunition; 105mm artillery shells; and ammunition for Myanmar's new 155mm long-range guns. The latter included both high explosive and white phosphorous rounds. One shipment even included ammunition for the Myanmar Army's vintage 25-pounder field guns. In addition, Pakistan has provided Myanmar's arms factories with components for ammunition, such as primers, fuzes and metallic links for mad~ine-gun belts.

Pakistan has also been associated with Myanmar's purchase of jet trainers from China.

In June 1998 it was revealed that China would finance a $20 million sale of seven NAMC/PAC Karakorum~ traineM to the MAF. An order for additional aircraft soon followed. About 14 of the two-seater jet trainers have already been delivered to Myanmar's Shante air training base. Myanmar is the first customer of this aircraft Its acquisition considerably increases the MAF's ability to train pilots for its expanding fleet of Chinese F-7 interceptors and A-5 ground attack aircraft. Like Myanmar's G4 Super Galeb jet trainers (grounded due to a lack of spare parts), the K-8 can also be configured for ground attack. The K-8 is manufactured in China, but Pakistan's Aero. nautical Complex has a 25% interest in the project. Albeit indirectly, the sale of these aircraft significantly boosts the level of Pakistan's support for the Tatmadaw's expansion and modernisation programme.

Training and intelligence

Pakistan seems also to have provided Myanmar with a wide range of military training. In the early 1990s there were reports that Pakistan had helped members of the Tatmadaw learn to operate and maintain those Chinese weapon systems and items of equipment also held in Pakistan's inventory. For example, it was rumoured that the Pakistan Air Force (which also operates F-7s and A-5s) was helping its Myanmar counterpart get to grips with its new Chinese fighter aircraft. The Pakistan Army reportedly passed on advice to the Myanmar Army about its Type-69, Type-63 and Type-59 tanks, and its Chinese-sourced artillery. There were also reports that Pakistan Army instructors were based in Myanmar for a period to help train Myanmar special forces and airborne personnel.

While these reports remain unconfirmed, they are given greater credence as a number of Myanmar Army officers are currently in Pakistan undergoing artillery and armour training, and attending Pakistan's Staff Colleges. The MAF and Myanmar Navy also have officers undergoing training in Pakistan. It is possible that Pakistani military personnel have also been sent to Myanmar to help the Tatmadaw learn to operate and maintain its new K-8 jet trainers, and possibly even the 155mm artillery pieces that the SPDC acquired from Israel last year.

Observers have recently suggested that the intelligence agencies of Myanmar and Pakistan have developed a good working relationship. There is some evidence that Pakistan's initial arms shipments to the SLORC in 1989 were facilitated by Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, representing senior members of the Pakistan armed forces. It is also possible that these arms were sent to Myanmar without the knowledge of Prime Minister Bhutto, who had some sympathy for Myanmar's democradc leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Pakistan's price for such assistance would be greater access to information about developments along India's eastern border. Even if bilateral intelligence ties now amount to little more than periodic exchanges of broad assessments and discussions about the activities of major regional powers, such contacts are still important symbols of shared strategic interests.

Strategic imperatives

Pakistan's efforts to increase its military ties with Myanmar and Yangon's interest in encouraging such ties is not unexpected.

For a long time after Myanmar (then Burma) regained its independence in 1948 its relations with Pakistan were quite strained. Friedens along Myanmar's border with East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), territorial disputes, smuggling, illegal immigration and suspected Pakistani aid to Muslim insurgents (known as Mujahids) in Myanmar aggravated tensions.

In the 1960s the Ne Win regime's efforts to expel people of sub-continental extracdon from Myanmar, and to nadonalise most of the country's commerce and industry, added to pressures on bilateral relations. In 1972 Yangon's recognition of the new state of Bangladesh was in the face of strong criticism from Islamabad, which at one stage threatened to break off diplomatic relations. Also, while Myanmar tried to remain neutral in the India-Pakistan dispute, the Ne Win regime's fear of its massive neighbour in the west meant that it usually gave good relations with India a high priority. This was sometimes seen by Pakistan to be at its expense.

Under such circumstances the likelihood of close military ties developing between Myanmar and Pakistan was remote. Before 1962 Tatmadaw officers would occasionally attend the Pakistan Staff College at Quetta, but even those contacts were broken after Ne Win seized power and imposed his isolationist and xenophobic policies on the country.

Pakistan's offer of assistance to the SLORC in early 1989 was dearly an opportunity to move by the Islamabad government to take advantage of Myanmar's straitened circumstances and to outflank India which under Rajiv Gandhi strongly supported Aung San Suu Kyi and the Myanmar pro democracy movement. Although New Delhi later reversed its policy and sought to improve relations with Yangon, Myanmar and Pakistan have come to recognise a nur~number of common interests. In parTIcular, they, both have dose political and military ties with China, and share strategic concerns about India.

Myanmar can also provide intelligence about developments in Bangladesh. In return, Pakistan can help deflect criticism of Myanmar in multilateral forums like the UN. For example, during the late 1980s Pakistan joined China in opposing resolutions against Myanmar in the UN Human Rights Commission. To a lesser extent, Pakistan can also help protect Myanmar's interests with the Islamic countries, who have expressed concern about the treatment of Muslims in Myanmar, including the plight of the Rohingyas in Arakan State.

However, to the SLORC, and now the SPDC, perhaps the greatest practical benefit arising from Myanmar's ties with Pakistan is that of having a willing (albeit secret) supplier of ammunition and spare parts for the Tatmadaw varied inventory of Chinese and Western atms Both countries are heavily reliant on Chinese military technology, arms and equipment. Many of the weapon systems used by Myanmar and Pakistan are the same. The arns inventories of Myanmar and Pakistan are also similar in that they both contain German automatic rifles, light machine guns and ammunition-aU manufactured locally.

Both countries still use (`and in some cases manufacture) older US and UK arms and ammunition, a legacy of their shared colonial heritage and former links to the West. Because of these similarities, and because of its more advanced technical development, Pakistan is also in a position to provide Myanmar's armed forces with the kind of specialist technical training no longer on offer from the Western democracies.

Myanmar's military ties with Pakistan, while reasonably modest, are not without cost. Politicians and strategic analysts in India, have been quick to point out that the common thread that links Yangor~and Islamabad is a dose relationship with China, stiU seen as India's greatest long-term threat. It has been suggested that China is using its des with Pakistan and Myanmar to surround India with compliant states. Some observers have gone as far as to suggest that, in the event of a major confrontation between China and India, Pakistan and Myanmar could be caLLed upon to provide China with support, induding troops.

Such claims have been dismissed by the SLORC and the SPDC as fanciful, flying as they do in the face of Myanmar's deep commitment to independence and neutrality in world affairs. The Yangon regime has invited Indian observers to visit certain military bases to verify that China has not established strategic facilities there (India has not accepted).

• A 106mm M40A1 recoilless rifle, probably provided to Myanmar by Pakistan. Even so, evidence of continuing military links between Myanmar and Pakistan, as represented by the most recent arms sales, will add to the fears of Indian strategic analysts and others with an interest in the region's future stability.

JIR July 2000
This is bad article. It shows clearly the complicity to support tryanical rulers in Burma; these are the same murderers and rapists who need to be tried for their genocide against the muslim minority. To aid and abet murders is not good.
 

Pak_Sher

SENIOR MEMBER
Dec 14, 2010
2,615
-1
1,784
Country
Pakistan
Location
United States
Breaking the arms embargo

After Myanmar's armed forces created the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) in September 1988 and took back direct control of the country, they soon assessed that the Tatmadaw faced four main threats:

• renewed outbreak of civil unrest in the main cities caused by pro~democracy demonstrators;

• an upsurge of fighting in the countryside by ethnic, ideological and narcotics-based insurgent groups trying to take advantage of the military regime's serious political and economic problems;

• the possible creation of a partnership between the urban dissidents and ethnic insurgents in an effort to bring down the Yangon regime;

• an invasion by a US-led coalition of countries determined to replace Myanmar's military dictatorship with a civilian democratic government

Given the country's history and the Tatmadaw customary way of tackling such issues, the SLORC's answer was perhaps predictable. It was to crush the urban dissidents as quickly and as ruthlessly as possible. The regime increased the tempo of military operations against those insurgent

groups that seemed most likely to collaborate with the pro democracy movement, such as the Karens. It also began taking military precautions against a possible invasion by the USA and its allies.

These measures placed a premium on a plentiful supply of arms and ammunition, but the Tatmadaw armouries were almost empty. A series of bitter campaigns against insurgent groups around the country's borders had seriously depleted stocks. Also, Myanmar's chronic foreign exchange problems in the years leading up to the pro democracy demonstrations in 1988 had made it hard for the regime to purchase fresh military supplies. Nor could the country's arms factories meet demand.

They lacked the capacity to produce the required materiel in time and faced shortages of critical raw materials, much of which had to be imported. Major new items, like anti aircraft guns, could not be manufactured locally and had to be purchased from abroad. Consequently, the SLORC was forced to seek foreign suppliers who were prepared to turn a blind eye to the regime's record of human rights abuses, and who did not support the arms embargo placed on Myanmar by the West.

Three countries were quick to come to the SLORC's assistance. The first was Singapore. Two shiploads of arms and ammunition were sent to Yangon in October 1988 to fill an urgent order for mortars, small arms ammunition, recoilless rifle rounds and raw materials for Myanmar's arms factories. Israel too seemed prepared (through a Singaporean intermediary) to provide weapons to its old friend and ally (See JlR March 2000, pp35-38). A shipment of captured Palestinian weapons and ammunition (mainly grenade launchers and recoilless guns) arrived in Myanmar in August 1989. Before the Israeli arms arrived, however, the SLORC received at least one shipment of arms and ammunition from Pakistan.

Arms sales P In January 1989 a senior official from Pakistan's government arms industry reportedly visited Yangon to offer the SLORC war supplies. Two months later a group of senior Tatmadaw officers, led by Myanmar Air Force (MAF) Commander-in-Chief Major General Tin Tun, made an unpublicised visit to Islamabad. The delegation also included Myanmar's Director of Ordnance and Director of Defence Industries. According to Bertil Lintner, an agreement was quickly reached for Pakistan to sell 150 machine guns, 50,000 rounds of ammunition and 5,000 120mm mortar bombs to the SLORC.

Soon after the first deliveries were made, unexploded mortar bombs bearing the marks of the government owned Pakistan Ordnance Factory (POF) were recovered by Karen insurgents along Myanmar's eastern border. The Tatmadaw delegadon also inspected Pakistan's aviation industry complex. This led to accusations by Karen insurgents the following May that Pakistan was training MAF pilots, possibly as part of a comprehensive deal to sell Pakistan-built combat aircraft to the SLORC.

Other sales followed. It was probably Pakistan that provided Myanmar with its new 106mm M40A1 recoilless rifles, some of which the Tatmadaw mounted on its 4x4 vehicles. Pakistan also sent the SLORC a diverse collection of mortars, rocket launchers, assault rifles and ammunition valued at about US$20 million. Some of these weapons were made in China and Eastern Europe.

Until the practice was stopped by the USA, many of these weapons were reportedly~,~siphoned off shipments sent to Pakistan for use by the anti-Soviet mujahideen in Afghanistan. Arms sales to the Yangon regime were halted for a period by Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, but were resumed after the 1990 elections by her successor Nawaz Sharif. Indeed, the arms shipments that took place in those critical months of 1989 marked the beginning of a secret military partnership with Myanmar that continues to this day.

Over the past decade additional reports have surfaced that the armed forces and defence industries of Pakistan and Myanmar have developed a close working relationship. Only last year the SLORC's successor, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), purchased two shiploads of ammunition from the POF. These shipments, reportedly valued at $3.2 million, included a wide range of military materiel.

There was: .38 revolver ammunition; 7.62mm machine gun ammunition (and spare barrels for the Tatmadaw MG3 machine guns); 77mm rifle-launched grenades; 16rnm, 82mm and 106mm recoit less rifle rounds; 120mm mortar bombs; 37mm anti-aircraft gun ammunition; 105mm artillery shells; and ammunition for Myanmar's new 155mm long-range guns. The latter included both high explosive and white phosphorous rounds. One shipment even included ammunition for the Myanmar Army's vintage 25-pounder field guns. In addition, Pakistan has provided Myanmar's arms factories with components for ammunition, such as primers, fuzes and metallic links for mad~ine-gun belts.

Pakistan has also been associated with Myanmar's purchase of jet trainers from China.

In June 1998 it was revealed that China would finance a $20 million sale of seven NAMC/PAC Karakorum~ traineM to the MAF. An order for additional aircraft soon followed. About 14 of the two-seater jet trainers have already been delivered to Myanmar's Shante air training base. Myanmar is the first customer of this aircraft Its acquisition considerably increases the MAF's ability to train pilots for its expanding fleet of Chinese F-7 interceptors and A-5 ground attack aircraft. Like Myanmar's G4 Super Galeb jet trainers (grounded due to a lack of spare parts), the K-8 can also be configured for ground attack. The K-8 is manufactured in China, but Pakistan's Aero. nautical Complex has a 25% interest in the project. Albeit indirectly, the sale of these aircraft significantly boosts the level of Pakistan's support for the Tatmadaw's expansion and modernisation programme.

Training and intelligence

Pakistan seems also to have provided Myanmar with a wide range of military training. In the early 1990s there were reports that Pakistan had helped members of the Tatmadaw learn to operate and maintain those Chinese weapon systems and items of equipment also held in Pakistan's inventory. For example, it was rumoured that the Pakistan Air Force (which also operates F-7s and A-5s) was helping its Myanmar counterpart get to grips with its new Chinese fighter aircraft. The Pakistan Army reportedly passed on advice to the Myanmar Army about its Type-69, Type-63 and Type-59 tanks, and its Chinese-sourced artillery. There were also reports that Pakistan Army instructors were based in Myanmar for a period to help train Myanmar special forces and airborne personnel.

While these reports remain unconfirmed, they are given greater credence as a number of Myanmar Army officers are currently in Pakistan undergoing artillery and armour training, and attending Pakistan's Staff Colleges. The MAF and Myanmar Navy also have officers undergoing training in Pakistan. It is possible that Pakistani military personnel have also been sent to Myanmar to help the Tatmadaw learn to operate and maintain its new K-8 jet trainers, and possibly even the 155mm artillery pieces that the SPDC acquired from Israel last year.

Observers have recently suggested that the intelligence agencies of Myanmar and Pakistan have developed a good working relationship. There is some evidence that Pakistan's initial arms shipments to the SLORC in 1989 were facilitated by Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, representing senior members of the Pakistan armed forces. It is also possible that these arms were sent to Myanmar without the knowledge of Prime Minister Bhutto, who had some sympathy for Myanmar's democradc leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Pakistan's price for such assistance would be greater access to information about developments along India's eastern border. Even if bilateral intelligence ties now amount to little more than periodic exchanges of broad assessments and discussions about the activities of major regional powers, such contacts are still important symbols of shared strategic interests.

Strategic imperatives

Pakistan's efforts to increase its military ties with Myanmar and Yangon's interest in encouraging such ties is not unexpected.

For a long time after Myanmar (then Burma) regained its independence in 1948 its relations with Pakistan were quite strained. Friedens along Myanmar's border with East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), territorial disputes, smuggling, illegal immigration and suspected Pakistani aid to Muslim insurgents (known as Mujahids) in Myanmar aggravated tensions.

In the 1960s the Ne Win regime's efforts to expel people of sub-continental extracdon from Myanmar, and to nadonalise most of the country's commerce and industry, added to pressures on bilateral relations. In 1972 Yangon's recognition of the new state of Bangladesh was in the face of strong criticism from Islamabad, which at one stage threatened to break off diplomatic relations. Also, while Myanmar tried to remain neutral in the India-Pakistan dispute, the Ne Win regime's fear of its massive neighbour in the west meant that it usually gave good relations with India a high priority. This was sometimes seen by Pakistan to be at its expense.

Under such circumstances the likelihood of close military ties developing between Myanmar and Pakistan was remote. Before 1962 Tatmadaw officers would occasionally attend the Pakistan Staff College at Quetta, but even those contacts were broken after Ne Win seized power and imposed his isolationist and xenophobic policies on the country.

Pakistan's offer of assistance to the SLORC in early 1989 was dearly an opportunity to move by the Islamabad government to take advantage of Myanmar's straitened circumstances and to outflank India which under Rajiv Gandhi strongly supported Aung San Suu Kyi and the Myanmar pro democracy movement. Although New Delhi later reversed its policy and sought to improve relations with Yangon, Myanmar and Pakistan have come to recognise a nur~number of common interests. In parTIcular, they, both have dose political and military ties with China, and share strategic concerns about India.

Myanmar can also provide intelligence about developments in Bangladesh. In return, Pakistan can help deflect criticism of Myanmar in multilateral forums like the UN. For example, during the late 1980s Pakistan joined China in opposing resolutions against Myanmar in the UN Human Rights Commission. To a lesser extent, Pakistan can also help protect Myanmar's interests with the Islamic countries, who have expressed concern about the treatment of Muslims in Myanmar, including the plight of the Rohingyas in Arakan State.

However, to the SLORC, and now the SPDC, perhaps the greatest practical benefit arising from Myanmar's ties with Pakistan is that of having a willing (albeit secret) supplier of ammunition and spare parts for the Tatmadaw varied inventory of Chinese and Western atms Both countries are heavily reliant on Chinese military technology, arms and equipment. Many of the weapon systems used by Myanmar and Pakistan are the same. The arns inventories of Myanmar and Pakistan are also similar in that they both contain German automatic rifles, light machine guns and ammunition-aU manufactured locally.

Both countries still use (`and in some cases manufacture) older US and UK arms and ammunition, a legacy of their shared colonial heritage and former links to the West. Because of these similarities, and because of its more advanced technical development, Pakistan is also in a position to provide Myanmar's armed forces with the kind of specialist technical training no longer on offer from the Western democracies.

Myanmar's military ties with Pakistan, while reasonably modest, are not without cost. Politicians and strategic analysts in India, have been quick to point out that the common thread that links Yangor~and Islamabad is a dose relationship with China, stiU seen as India's greatest long-term threat. It has been suggested that China is using its des with Pakistan and Myanmar to surround India with compliant states. Some observers have gone as far as to suggest that, in the event of a major confrontation between China and India, Pakistan and Myanmar could be caLLed upon to provide China with support, induding troops.

Such claims have been dismissed by the SLORC and the SPDC as fanciful, flying as they do in the face of Myanmar's deep commitment to independence and neutrality in world affairs. The Yangon regime has invited Indian observers to visit certain military bases to verify that China has not established strategic facilities there (India has not accepted).

• A 106mm M40A1 recoilless rifle, probably provided to Myanmar by Pakistan. Even so, evidence of continuing military links between Myanmar and Pakistan, as represented by the most recent arms sales, will add to the fears of Indian strategic analysts and others with an interest in the region's future stability.

JIR July 2000
Misleading information and too many probabilities in the article contradicting the content and credibility of the writer
 

Cool_Soldier

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There is no credible source to support this article contents.
Seems someone's personal imagination based opinion.
 

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