Indigenous production of arms and ammunition makes the armed forces independent to defend the territorial integrity of their respective country. In the case of Pakistan, Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POFs) have been remarkably contributing to Pakistan’s journey of self-reliance in Defence Production. It is not only fulfilling the arms and ammunition requirements of the Pakistan Armed Forces but also significantly contributing to the National Economy of Pakistan. Therefore, it is rightly stated that these are the forces behind the armed forces in Pakistan.
Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POFs), the largest defence industrial complex under the Ministry of Defence Production, was founded by the Government of Pakistan at a very crucial time in 1951 because at that time Pakistan had no manufacturing facility for arms and ammunition. Before the partition of British India in 1947, the British raised sixteen ordnance factories but none of them was located in Muslim majority areas. Therefore, after the partition, all of those factories were given to the newly independent state, India. Pakistan was in dire need to have a manufacturing facility for arms and ammunition to deter the security challenges from India. This situation laid down the foundation of the POFs.
Currently, the POFs consist of fourteen factories and twelve commercial divisions. Factories include Weapons Factory, Machine Gun Factory, Small Arms and Ammo Factory, Medium Artillery Ammo Factory, Heavy Artillery Ammo Factory, Tank & Anti-Tank Ammo Factory, Bombs and Grenade Factory, Propellants Factory, Explosive Factory, Filling Factory Brass Mills, Tungsten Ally Factory, Carbide Factory and Clothing Factory. Moreover, the commercial divisions are Wah Industries Ltd, Wah Nobel Acetates Ltd, Wah Nobel Chemicals Ltd, Wah Nobel, Shot Gun Ammunition Factory, Wah Gezhouba, Wah Brass Mill, Welfare Packages Factory, Wah Nobel Detonators Ltd, Hi-Tech Plastics Ltd, Packaging Factory and Wah Construction Ltd.
There are over seventy major products that are manufactured by Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POFs). The main products include automatic rifles, light, medium and heavy machine guns, a wide range of mortar and artillery ammunition, aircraft and anti-aircraft ammunition, tank and anti-tank ammunition, bombs, grenades, landmines, pyrotechnics and signal products. In addition to it, the POF also produces commercial explosives and hunting ammunition and possesses extensive facilities for the manufacture of brass, copper and aluminium ingots. The complex’s advanced garments factory manufactures military uniforms and also caters to the needs of the civil sector.
Moreover, the core objectives of the POF are to meet the requirements of ammo and arms of Pakistan Armed Forces during peace and wartime, to utilize the surplus capacity for commercial and export purposes and to manage and administer factory affairs and run them on sound commercial lines. In the pursuit of these objectives, the POF is fulfilling 90 per cent ammunition needs of the Armed Forces and also exporting surplus production to over 40 countries in Asia, Europe, Middle East and the Americas. The report on two years performance (August 2018-August 2020) by the Ministry of Defence Production has mentioned that the POF exports worth 152 million USD.
General Qamar Javed Bajwa, while concluding his remarks on the performance of POFs during the recent visit to the complex, appreciated the POFs endeavours for international ventures focusing on exports to contribute to the national exchequer and termed POF a force behind the Armed Forces serving as the backbone in defence of Pakistan. He also said that Technological up-gradation / modernization and indigenous development to attain self-reliance in defence production are vital to meet the challenges of the future battlefield. As far as the prospects for the POF’s role in strengthening the economy of Pakistan are concerned, the complex can be among effective and practical options to overcome the economic challenges of Pakistan. Recently, a CBS-affiliated television station, KUTV, has released a press on “Global Military Propellants and Explosives Sales Market Size 2021” which is a research report produced by Market Research Intellect. This report has focused on some key aspects of the market such as profitability, market share, key regions, production, and key competitors. The POFs has also been mentioned in the report among the major manufacturers Military Propellants and Explosives along with Explosia, Pakistan Ordnance Factories, Australian Munitions, Eurenco, General Dynamics, MAXAM Corp, Rheinmetall Defence, etc.
In addition to it, according to the report, the global Military Propellants and Explosives market size is projected to reach USD 4586.1 million by 2026, from USD 4058 million in 2021, at a CAGR of 2.1% during 2021-2026. This increasing size of the global market should not be overlooked by the Government of Pakistan which will significantly contribute to the national exchequer. Therefore, the policymakers need to formulate strategies to grab maximum benefits from this rising global market of Military Propellants and Explosives.
In a nutshell, Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POFs) have been playing a pivotal role in the pursuit of Pakistan’s self-reliance objective in the field of defence production. The contributions of POFs towards Pakistan’s economy also hold undeniable significance. Now, the Government of Pakistan should aggressively work to upgrade the POFs to increase its capacity and further raise the standards to enhance the share in the global market of Military Propellants and Explosives which would result in an unusual contribution to strengthen Pakistan’s economy.