By Yasser Latif Hamdani
So which mystery Asian country has placed the order for Pakistani JF-17 fighter jets. Here is what Defense News has to say:
The customer in question is believed to be Myanmar, and the head of the country’s Air Force, Gen. Khin Aung Myint, was in Pakistan at the end of May for a four-day visit at the invitation of the Pakistan Air Force. He met senior defense officials and toured various bases and installations, though little more was said about the trip at the time.
If true, for a dispassionate analyst of international relations, this is hardly an issue. Myanmar and Pakistan share several strategic defense considerations vis a vis the aspiring regional hegemon India (all the more apparent after recent incursion by Indian troops in Myanmar though the exact facts of that are presently unknown) and both countries are close to China. JF-17 is a capable aircraft and it should find a market in Asian countries as a highly effective low cost jet fighter. Therefore selling to Myanmar is a pragmatic move and is in keeping with national interest.
However, there have been voices in Pakistan who have been calling for breaking off of ties with Myanmar over the terrible humanitarian situation confronting the Rohingyas of Burma. Many of the right wing are using a humanitarian tragedy to create a false religious frenzy in Pakistan. Ironically the same group also was exceedingly overjoyed at the news that Pakistan had won its first order for the JF-17. What they need to understand is that this is the business that nation state is in. As the father of the nation state Cardinal Richelieu of France is said to have remarked – the state is mortal. Its salvation lies in this world.
Does that mean we give up speaking for Rohingyas? No. Collective international pressure must be built from a humanitarian angle. Let us however not burden the nation state with the business of morality however.