As diplomats from more than 100 nations agreed on a treaty Wednesday to ban cluster bombs, India and Pakistan were conspicuously missing along with United States, Israel, Russia and China. The absence of these six countries, the biggest producers and/or users of cluster bombs today, raises doubts about the effectiveness of the treaty in eliminating large numbers of civilian casualties from the use of such munitions.
This is the second time in recent history that Pakistan has found itself opposing treaties banning munitions blamed for killing and maiming of innocent civilians caught in the battles. In 2002, India and Pakistan both opposed the land mines ban treaty signed in Ottawa in 1999. Both countries are major producers and users of land mines along with US, Israel, Russia and China.
Cluster bombs, launched by ground artillery or dropped from aircraft, spread dozens or hundreds of "bomblets" across an area as big as two football fields to attack concentrations of troops and vehicles. They have been used with devastating impact on battlefields around the globe, most recently in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon. But critics contend the explosives often fail to detonate and later cause tremendous loss of civilian lives, from farmers who step on colorful bomblets in their fields to children who mistake them for toys.
Prior to the Ottawa Treaty banning land mines, 131 states possessed stockpiles, estimated at over 260 million antipersonnel mines. The Landmine Monitor now estimates that 54 countries have stockpiles, totaling 180 million antipersonnel mines. Based on this history, there is an expectation that the cluster bomb ban would similarly lead to a reduction in stockpiles and use of such munitions.
Given the terrible human misery caused by landmines and cluster bombs, it is disappointing to see that Pakistan has chosen not to seek high moral ground on this issue by failing to participate in either of these highly laudable treaties.
Sources: Associated Press
As of today, more than 90 nations — including 18 of 26 NATO members — have signed the treaty, called the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bars adherents from using, producing, selling or stockpiling cluster munitions.
Norway's foreign minister, Jonas Gahr Stoere, said he expected several more nations to sign on Thursday. Among them, however, will not be the United States, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Israel or several Middle Eastern nations. But Gahr Stoere said universal compliance was not necessary for the cluster-bomb treaty to work.
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Here's a recent report from the-monitor.org on Pakistan's cluster bomb capability:
Pakistan states that it has “never used cluster munitions in any conflict to date.”
Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) produces and offers for export M483A1 155mm artillery projectiles containing 88 M42/M46 dual purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) grenades. The South Korean company Poongsan entered into a licensed production agreement with POF in November 2004 to co-produce K-310 155mm extended-range DPICM projectiles in Pakistan at Wah Cantonment. While the ammunition is being produced for Pakistan’s army, the two firms have said they will also co-market the projectiles to export customers. The Pakistani army took delivery of the first production lots in April 2008.
Jane’s Information Group reports that the Pakistan Air Weapons Center produces the Programmable Submunitions Dispenser (PSD-1), which is similar to the United States Rockeye cluster bomb, and dispenses 225 anti-armor submunitions. Jane’s states that the Pakistan National Development Complex produces and markets the Hijara Top-Attack Submunitions Dispenser (TSD-1) cluster bomb. It lists Pakistan’s Air Force as possessing BL-755 cluster bombs. The US transferred to Pakistan 200 Rockeye cluster bombs at some point between 1970 and 1995.
India has recently acquired 500 cluster bombs from the US, according to media reports.
Defence & Security Equipment international (DSEi) permanently shut down the Pakistan Ordnance Factory (POF) stand and Pakistan’s Defence Export Promotion Organisation Pavilion after promotional material was found on both containing references to cluster bombs at the London expo.
A DSEi statement said that promotional material was found containing references, which on closer inspection were found to be in breach of UK Government Export Controls and the exhibitions own contractual requirements.
The statement posted on the DSEi website further read that the British Government fully supported the decision by DSEi to close the stand and the Pavilion.
The Pakistani arms companies were found distributing brochures bearing advertisement for banned cluster bombs at the expo.
Cluster bombs, are banned in UK under the UK export control act 2002. They are also prohibited under the explicit acknowledgement of the exhibitors.
Brochures obtained from Pakistan Government companies clearly list cluster munitions including 155mm artillery ammunition containing 88 sub-munitions (weapons having an area of effect damage).
A brochure obtained from the Pakistan Ordnance Factory (POF) lists the 155mm BB DPICM (artillery ammunitin containing 45 sub-munitions).
While a brochure obtained from Pakistan’s Defence Export Promotion Organization (DEPO, Stand S7-265) entitled “Public and private sector companies and their commercial products,” listed the government owned POF (page 9) as able to supply 155mm HOW HE ICM M483A1 (cluster munition containing 88 sub-munitions).
The brochure also listed the Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE) [page 5, section e, sub point 3] being able to supply programmable sub-munition dispensers.
The objections were raised by a British Member of Parliament, Caroline Lucas. She also pointed out to the double standard of the exhibitors who were simultaneously holding a conference on cluster bombs, the “Second Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions” in Lebanon which seeks to eliminate the usage of cluster munitions.
The Guardian reported that some Pakistani arms manufacturing companies were also advertising gold plated sub-machineguns as ‘collectors items’.
Cluster bombs gained notoriety when the US used their infamous daisy cutters during their Afghan campaign.
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