IDEAS 2000—post exhibition strategy
By Syed Iqbal Hashmi
Dec 04 - 10, 2000
Seminars, exhibitions, symposiums, workshops and trade
shows are part and parcel of urban culture. International Defence
Exhibition and Seminar 2000 (IDEAS 2000) based on the theme of 'arms for
peace" was however an exceptional and memorable event in the history
of Pakistan. IDEAS 2000 was launched from 14th to 17th November but was
extended for one more day on public demand. Most of the visitors including
Pakistani as well as foreigners were of the view that the Exhibition was
first of its kind surpassing international standards by establishing a new
standard of its own. Originally intended to be a Defence Exhibition turned
into a business opportunity for local as well as foreign arms suppliers.
This objective was not achieved incidentally but through strategic
thinking and focused planning. Deliberate efforts were made to maintain
business like environment throughout the exhibition and that is why
general public was not invited to attend the exhibition.
The exhibition is now over with tons of praises and
appreciations but the critical question at this moment of time is that
whether this exhibition was an end or means to achieve an end? All efforts
to make this exhibition a history will go futile if post exhibition
activities are not matched with level of excellence achieved during
exhibition. Business target through export of local arms was $500-$600
million dollar. Any student of sales & marketing knows this basic fact
that follow-up visits are critical to close sales after product
presentation. Thus post exhibition activities will play more pivotal role
in converting this opportunity into inflow of foreign exchange.
Those who visited the exhibition were caught with
pleasant surprise when they came to know the capacities and capabilities
of local manufacturers. Pakistan has not only developed atom bombs and
long range missiles but also has capabilities of assembling submarines,
rebuilding aircraft and manufacturing planes, battle tanks and small arm
weapons. A large lucrative market already exists for these products.
Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Africa and developing countries combined are
largest arm buyers and will be our target market.
It is worth mentioning that despite achieving
capabilities, Pakistan has no intention to sell nuclear arms and long
range missiles on principle grounds. In the exhibition I met Air Attache
of a developed country who attended many exhibitions but confessed that
IDEAS 2000 was 1st of its kind visited by him. His comments were further
augmented by the fact that India, USA and many other developed countries
have taken serious notice of this exhibition. That Air Attache came every
day and took photographs of each and every stall.
Besides open-air display of military weapons, equipment
from various companies and state enterprises were on display in three big
and beautifully designed halls. Hall 1 and 3 were displaying equipment
from all over the world, whereas Hall 2 was exclusively for indigenously
developed Pakistani products. While walking through Pakistan Hall
everybody was impressed watching capacities and capabilities of local
Heavy Rebuild Factory—Taxila is manufacturing armored
fighter vehicles, armored personal carriers, tank guns and many components
and critical spare parts besides pride of Pakistan main battle tank Al-Khalid.
Equipped with automatic ammunition handling system with Night Vision
capabilities Al-Khalid can operate from 5m underwater. It has ballistic
computation time of less than a second with range, weight and speed
respectively 2000 m, 46 tons and 70 Km/hr. It has 125mm (48 calibre) bore
with auto frettaged and chrome plated gun which can fire APFSDS, HEAT-FS
and HE-FS conventional ammunition & missiles. Buyers from different
countries showed keen interest in this tank.
Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and Air Weapon Complex
has developed four facilities including F-6 Rebuild Factory, Mirage
Rebuild Factory (lst defence establishment to achieve ISO-9002
certification), Aircraft Manufacturing Factory and Avionics and Radar
Factory. Besides manufacturing critical spare parts of Boeing & GE
Engines, Pakistan is manufacturing Super Mushak (MF - 17) aircraft & K
- 8 Jet trainer. Avionics & Radar factory is manufacturing Griffo M -
7 Radar, New Chaff and Flare Dispensers and Chinese designed radar warning
Pakistan Naval Dockyard (ISO - 9002 certified) has
capability of manufacturing tugs, barges, floating docks, auxiliary
crafts, midgets, petrol crafts, missile boats, MCMV (Marine Counter
Measure Vessel) and above all AGOSTA 90 B Submarine construction with
It was obvious that Pakistan can earn substantial
amount of foreign exchange through export of surplus arms and ammunition.
This was however noted with concern that private sector in our country is
far behind state owned enterprises in terms of level of excellence,
capabilities, size, commitment and output. Govemment, of course is
partially responsible for this gap as private capital flows only in the
direction of attractive opportunities. It is basically Government of
Pakistan who may initiate projects to bring private sector on-board.
Without active participation of private sector targets of export of
defence equipment can't be achieved.
Second area which need proper attention and focused
direction is much neglected R&D. R&D in Pakistan has not produced
any appreciable output, if it produced something at all. Instead of
investing in non-strategy based R&D, efforts may be concentrated on
Reverse Engineering and Transfer of Technology. This will help in
acquiring desired level of technical expertise.
While watching defence equipment on display one serious
question comes into mind that whatever is being promised through display
do we have capability to deliver above that or at least on that level.
Consistency of quality and sticking to delivery schedule are the areas
where we lack most. Market of Defence equipment on the other hand is of
very critical nature and can only be captured on permanent basis through
commitment to quality, timely delivery, uninterrupted logistic support,
history of serviceability of equipment over a longer period of time and
above all price competitiveness. And also are we ready to continue
supplies and fulfil our commitments for a longer period of time despite
international pressures and embargoes?
It was basically embargoes and unfavourable terms and
conditions that paved the way for self-reliance through indigenisation. A
blessing in disguise helped us in enhancing our potential
across-the-spectrum. Now instead of relying on fund flows from Int'l donor
agencies on their terms and conditions an environment should be created to
attract funds from private sector. This may be achieved through technical
collaboration, joint venture, cooperative arrangements, franchising and
licensing agreements with local companies, foreign governments and MNCs.
This will not only help us in developing technical expertise and local
talent but also give us an access to foreign market, which is presently
out of our reach, mainly due to our country image abroad. This is an area
where local private companies may work more comfortably and efficiently as
compared to state owned companies.
This exhibition has also raised an important issue
regarding performance of Export Promotion Bureau which has increased in
size over the years, despite the fact that Pakistan's export performance
has declined over the years in terms of constant $ value. Although IDEAS
2000 was a result of joint efforts of Pakistan Armed Forces and a private
company viz. Pegasus Consultancy (Pvt.) Limited alongwith a series of
supporting organizations from public and private sector. Outcome was
basically result of teamwork and joint efforts. However, this was evident
that difference was created mainly due to presence of Pegasus Consultancy.
Those who have seen working of this company are of firm believe that they
have given a new dimension to teamwork and leadership. From chairman to
peon worked round the clock with many sleepless nights working on one
point agenda to make the exhibition an exemplary success. Chairman &
Managing Director of the company was involved into bottom line matters
without doing any compromise on strategic direction. The way people were
working in this company is a role model worth studying and this fact can
easily be established that our bureaucrat can't work with that pace and
passion. So this is high time that our Govemment should increase the role
of private sector in boosting our exports. To finalize the deals discussed
during the exhibition delegates comprising of 3 to 4 persons should be
sent to all prospective buyers. Delegates should not be our bureaucrat but
foreign and local qualified MBA's involved in active marketing in private
sector. Further our commercial attaches are not producing any fruitful
results owing to the fact that most of them are not qualified marketers.
Excellent results may be achieved if qualified MBA's are inducted for
these posts on lucrative terms. Many developed countries are appointing
local people to take maximum advantage of available potential of foreign
markets. Pakistan may also restructure commercial department in foreign
embassies in these lines.
IDEAS 2000 provided the missing element to Pakistani
products—the marketing element. If we continue with the spirit it has
generated we may come into position to exceed our export targets. This may
only be achieved through well targeted efforts and providing opportunities
to private sector to work in hand with our foreign mission abroad.