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India cuts defence exports to Turkey over Pakistan nexus

Licence to sensitive items are being withheld amid security threats. India had started engaging meaningfully with traditional Pakistan ally Turkey from 2016. Amid this, the Turkish president’s planned visit to Pakistan has been postponed.

Updated: Oct 24, 2019, 10.11 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: India is cutting down exports of military equipment and dual-use items like explosives and detonators to Turkey, given its growing defence ties with Pakistan and the possibility of such equipment being used against domestic interests.

Amid this, the Turkish president’s planned visit to Pakistan has been postponed. There is growing international pressure, including from India, on Ankara to stop a cross-border offensive against Kurdish-led forces in Syria.

India has voiced its concern over the “unilateral military offensive” in north-eastern Syria and asserted that the action can undermine stability in the region as well as the fight against terrorism.

Sources told ET that export authorisations for sensitive equipment to Turkey are being withheld and are unlikely to be processed soon because of repeated statements by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Kashmir and Ankara’s growing arms exports to Islamabad.

The share of military equipment in Turkey-bound defence exports is minimum, but dual-use items like detonating cord, safety fuses and explosives used in construction and mining claim a larger part of the trade pie.

A study on weapons used by the ISIS in Syria conducted by Conflict Armament Research (CAR) in 2017 found that a large number of components used by the terror outfit to carry out IED attacks originated from India and had been exported to Turkey and other nations from where they found the way to the conflict zone.

India had started engaging meaningfully with Turkey, a traditional Pakistan ally, from 2016. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first few leaders to call Erdogan after an aborted coup attempt in 2016, the Turkish president made India his first foreign trip after returning to power in 2017. Trade ties picked up since then and counter-terror partnership started to grow.

There is, however, a disquiet in New Delhi ever since Ankara and Kuala Lumpur started batting for Islamabad vociferously after the special status to Jammu and Kashmir was repealed on August 5. Though most members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) distanced themselves from Pakistan on the issue, Turkey and Malaysia remained defiant.

ET had reported that a $2.3-billion deal to construct fleet support vessels for the navy in collaboration with a Turkish shipyard has come under question in the wake of security concerns and is set to be axed.

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