KARACHI: Wherever there were handguns or pistols displayed at the International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) 2022, there were constant clicking noises of cocking the guns and loading and unloading magazines.
Pistols were even popular among the younger visitors than the planes and tanks. There was a lot of click-click going on in the first two halls of the Expo Centre Karachi on Wednesday, the second day of the exhibition. Halls Nos 1 and 2 were entirely booked by Turkish companies. Turkey is known to make excellent firearms and our people were enjoying handling them.
Still the first thing to catch one’s eye in Hall No 1 were the Turkish drone cameras. Not your usual photography and filming drones, which would look like midgets here, these drones looked like huge spiders with combat proven capabilities and competencies. Most products and equipment there focused on tactical surveillance and reconnaissance. But there were the firearms, too, along with warheads, etc.
The Turkish companies were wise to have at least one salesperson in every stall from Pakistan so as to interact with visitors in Urdu. Had it not been for the nice young lady at the Canik Arms stall, one would have missed the apparel in the shape of jackets, pants and shorts with proper pockets and sleeves to hold the guns. They also had holsters for open and concealed carrying.
Girsan, with its black, silver and gold handguns was another popular time pass stall with lots and lots of firearms and lots and lots of Pakistani youth. The guns are extremely expensive with their prices starting from Rs150,000 to Rs300,000.
The clicking did not stop in Hall No 2 also as there were some more firearms stalls as well, but the area was focused on dominated by communication devices such as laser proximity sensors, range finders, acoustic detection and monitoring systems, sonars, underwater telephones, surveillance cameras and jamming systems.
There were also some great armour panels for military vehicles, aircraft, naval vessels and construction machinery.
Next, in Hall No 3, the China Pavilion painted quite a different picture with lots of peace and calm. Perhaps there were no handguns there that would interest the young crowd, not even at the Norinco stalls.
The people minding the Chinese stalls did not seem interested in sharing much information although they had on display lots and lots of models of their fighter planes including JF-17 Thunder, helicopters, military vehicles and war ships.
Still, they greeted you with broad smiles, offered you sweet drops and minty mouth fresheners but no brochures or flyers to take with you.
Outside, Pakistan Air Force had proudly displayed their JF-17 Thunder while allowing anyone who wanted to climb into its cockpit and get photographed to do so.
A highlight of this year is the inclusion of the local defence industry from Peshawar, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Lahore, Karachi, etc.
There were again just young men crowded around these stalls. One particular stall for Khan GMB from Darrra Adamkhel, was specially being thronged with everyone trying out their handguns, which were also more affordable than the foreign-made ones. And again the click-click just wouldn’t stop.
Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2022