Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Tuesday that Pakistan attaches great value to its relations with South Africa. According to the Pakistan Army media wing, COAS expressed these views during a meeting with Chief of South African National Defence Forces General Rudzani Maphwanya, who called on him at the General Headquarters. The COAS said Pakistan views South Africa as a key country in African continent, and appreciates South Africa’s role towards regional peace, security, and development of African region. It was said that both leaders discussed the matters of mutual interests, regional security situation, training, defence and security cooperation between the two countries. General Rudzani Maphwanya also appreciated Pakistan’s role in the regional peace and stability especially the Afghan Peace Process. According to ISPR, both dignitaries pledged to play their role for further improvement in bilateral cooperation at all levels.
Pakistan and South Africa both former British colonies and members of the Commonwealth, have had very cordial relations over the last six decades. Pakistan raised a strong voice against the apartheid and racial discrimination in South Africa during the past. Pakistan’s support for South African people in their struggle to end racial discrimination had laid strong foundations of Pakistan South African ties after end of apartheidism in South Africa since 1994. The two nations have had significant cooperation in diplomatic, political, trade, Defence and Security arenas over the years. However, the maximum potential of bilateral trade and cooperation has not been tapped so far and bilateral trade of the two countries remained less than 500 million dollars.
Besides Pak-South Africa bilateral trade and economic relations, Pakistan South Africa defence relations have more potential for future cooperation and expansion. Both Countries have developed military hardware technological bases and at times both nations are producing state of the art military hardware. Pakistan and South Africa had signed a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) during the visit of South African Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Naqakula to Pakistan in March 2017. The MoU called for cooperation in Research and development, technology transfer and co-production/ joint ventures both in public and private sectors of the two countries.
Pakistan was interested in acquiring South African T5-52 155 self-propelled Howitzer guns for its artillery Units because South African made Howitzer guns are known for rapid deployment and optimum accuracy. Pakistan and South African military Officers are regularly attending Staff Courses and military training institutions in each other’s countries. Pakistani Special Forces had trained South African soldiers in Counter Terrorism and Special Operations in the past. Besides land Forces, the Air Forces of both nations also have admirable working relationships during the past. Pakistan made multirole fighter jet JF-17 thunder, Mushak and K-8 advance trainer aircraft have great attraction for South African Air Force because these Pakistan’s made high efficiency, low-cost and state of the art aerial weaponry provide a better alternative of costly European and American weapon systems. Therefore, several African nations including South Africa have expressed their interests in Pakistani military hardware. Earlier, COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa had extensive negotiations with South African military leadership to enhance bilateral defence cooperation during his visit to South Africa in 2019. Despite having geographical distance, both nations have similar approaches and views on regional and international issues and are eager to promote their bilateral economic, trade and defense relations. Hopefully, Pak-South Africa bilateral economic and defence ties will reach new heights in coming days.