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Defence expo attracts large crowds on final day

Defence expo attracts large crowds on final day

KARACHI: The queues outside the National Coaching Centre gates were unending on Friday.

The fourth and final day of the 10th International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) 2018 organised by the Defence Export Promotion Organisation at the Karachi Expo Centre was open to the general public, who after getting their passes made took the shuttle which was leaving every five minutes or so to proceed to the venue.

There were happy children, some dressed in camouflage T-shirts smiling and posing on top of tanks, armoured vehicles and aircraft. Some of them were surprised to find out about other tanks besides the famous Al-Khalid and Al-Zarrar.

Keen youngsters were told by a nonagenarian ex-serviceman a gun must always be treated as loaded




Other productions of the Heavy Industry Taxila such as the command vehicle SAKB, the recovery vehicle Al-Hadeed, the logistics vehicle Al-Qaswa, the protection vehicle APC M113P and the armoured security vehicle Mohafiz IV/Interceptor also earned several fans. Some also got fooled by the inflatable smart decoys for deception, which seemed unbelievably realistic.

China’s LY-80 Lomads guidance vehicle and firing vehicle, their IBIS-150 Radar and heavy mechanised bridge 84-A were also attracting big crowds.

Many students among the visitors pleasantly surprised the representatives at the stalls by asking them intelligent questions. The expertise with which they were handling the weapons made one ask if they had practice. “No, not really. When we were children we used to play with plastic guns. Now we realise how heavy the real ones can be. As for the handling bit, well, we have watched how people do it in the movies,” said one youngster.

Among the young trying out weapons at the Turkish stalls, there was also an old man. “I am in my nineties,” said the gentleman who introduced himself as F.H. Malik, a retired air-force officer. He said that he had served with the Royal Air Force before Partition.

The gentleman was great at explaining to the young visitors around him how to safely handle guns and how to always treat them as loaded in order to be careful. “Guns are not to be taken lightly even when you know they are unloaded,” he told them while himself pulling the trigger as he kept the weapon pointed downwards.

Class-fellows Bilawal and Subhan said they would love to own the 8mm pistol, adding that visiting IDEAS 2018 became part of their plan only this morning. “We had an entry test at the University of Karachi today, which got postponed. That was when we decided to head here and see if anyone would even let us in. But it was no problem at all. Everyone has been very nice,” said Bilawal.

Mini thermal binocular unveiled

Among the tanks, aircraft, weapons and equipment produced indigenously was Skua LR Long Range-thermal binocular Tarsier Mini from Pakistan’s first private infrared or thermal imager manufacturer SHIBLI based in Islamabad. Said to be a must-have on the battlefield, the binocular weighs even less than 1kg and thus can be easily mounted on any firearm, thanks to its Nato-standard Picatinny rail. Its qualities also include perfect engineering for maximum precision for close combat and target acquisition.

Thankless jobs

The reception desk with young volunteers Yumna, Izma, Sonia, Ayesha, Sana, Saira, Maha, Rija, Asmara and others, all dressed in red, would make sure that everyone had the floor plan of the exhibition along with the latest gazette informing the day’s programme.

The AK Regiment and Air Defence military bands were another lot doing a thankless job as day after day they sat waiting under the open sky and the harsh sun to get up and start playing inspirational tunes for any VIP who happened to pass by them. Afterwards, they would quickly take off their pagg turbans and bagpipes. “You should wear our turbans for two minutes to understand why we can’t keep them on our heads for long,” said Sagheer Ahmed, chief of the AK Regiment band.

“They are made from woollen material. The bagpipes are no different. Our ceremonial uniform can get quite uncomfortable in this heat,” he said. But even though they put up tents and marquees with plenty of air-conditioners and pedestal fans to keep everyone cool and comfortable at the Expo Centre, the bands were not extended such luxury.

Police, Rangers and army men and women on duty outside also deserve a mention for even on the final day as they said that they had not gotten a chance to see the exhibition as yet.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2018

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