International Defence Exhibition and Seminar
International Defence Exhibition and Seminar
The official logo of IDEAS 2012
|Location(s)||Karachi Expo Centre, Karachi, (since 2000)|
|Attendance||24,000 at the last occurrence|
The International Defence Exhibition and Seminar, more commonly referred to as IDEAS, is a defence sector event, held biennially, in Pakistan. Since its inception by President Pervez Musharraf in 2000, it has grown to include more than 30,000 delegates and 250 exhibitors from around the world.
The Pakistan government attaches a high level of importance to IDEAS; despite the fact that it attracts a large number of delegates, it is seen as a vehicle for facilitating their own indigenous arms trade. The level of political involvement has been known to reach the highest echelons, with President Asif Ali Zardari personally inviting the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to the event in 2008 in order to boost the chances of Paksitan's export of its indigenously developed al-Khalid main battle tanks.
The Defence Export Promotion Organisation or more simply DEPO, is the government agency responsible for the success and organisation of IDEAS. Typically they outsource some elements of production of the exhibition to private companies. In 2000 to 2006, Pegasus Consultancy Private Limited organised the event, but after the 2010 conference was forced to cancel because of the catastrophic floods which hit Pakistan late that year, the contract for production of the event was then awarded to Badar Expo Solutions. Assessing how the event had grown since its inaugural occurrence in 2000, speaking at the 'soft launch' for IDEAS 2012, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani declared the exhibition a "mega event, that has become a global event in a short span of eleven years."
The event's prime mission has always been to showcase Pakistan's ability to export arms to foreign nations. The Campaign Against Arms Trade agree with this synopsis citing investigations from The Guardian newspaper that the only country Pakistan would not sell arms to would be Israel and noting that the IDEAS series of events was seemingly marketed to countries who find it difficult to buy elsewhere.
History of the event
Occurring on September 16–19, 2002 at the Karachi Expo Centre, the seminar element of the conference had expanded by this point to include, over two days, the following themes: “Asian Security Scenario” and “The Asian Defence Market”. The principal officer in charge of the event was Major General Syed Ali Hamed, then Director General of DEPO, who expected to receive 1500 attendees. The event was launched again by President Pervez Musharraf.
In its second year the event had attracted wide international interest with General Hamid reporting to Dawn newspaper that exhibitors from China, Turkey, France, Russia, Italy, Romania, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA, UAE and Saudi Arabia were expected to attend.
Already by 2002, IDEAS was being touted as the largest commercial event in the history of Pakistan with 45 official delegations from 30 countries attending and 110 exhibition stands from 25 countries.
In his speech, President Musharraf said the seminar would go a long way in shortening the technological gap between developed and developing countries especially with regards to defence production and preparedness, he welcomed the international delegates: “Their presence positively reflect[ing] the standing that Pakistan holds in the world as well as the excellent relations that it enjoys with a host of nations.”
However the event did not go without criticism, with Campaign Against Arms Trade noting that delegations from North Korea, Burma and Sudan were all present. Despite this, there was full representation from the Pakistan Armed Forces with all of the Service Chiefs in attendance, and even though India had attempted to curtail US sales to Pakistan, there was a sizeable presence from American companies including from Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.
By 2006 IDEAS was an established biennial international defence expo, it used the tag line (still in use today) of "Arms for Peace" and had matured to announce defence contracts as a major feature of the programme. 226 companies attended the exhibition of which 148 were non-Pakistani.
The first contract to be announced was the co-production of arms and ammunition with Germany and the Republic of Korea and was disclosed by the Chairman of Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) Lt General Syed Sabahat Hussain."
Aside from this, Dr Samar Mubarakmand from Pakistan's National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM) also announced MoUs with undisclosed African and Muslim states of $50 million dollars, adding to NESCOM's existing export deals worth $500million over the last three years with no transfer of technology necessary.
 According to the Pakistani News Service an "extensive media coverage was made with over 2,200 articles, editorials and news items published worldwide in leading newspapers and industry magazines."
Gaining momentum from the previous exhibition in 2006, General Farooq also reported three months prior to the exhibition to be held at the Karachi Expo Centre on 24–28 November that 92% of exhibition space had already been sold. And unlike the previous four exhibitions, which offered free entry to the expo element of the event, a fee would be levied of $25 per person.
The Prime Minister's address was centred on terrorism and extremism, its negative effects on the perception of Pakistan and the motives of terrorists to destabilise Pakistan's economy. He concluded that IDEAS, with its great many exhibitors, was proof that the terrorists were not having the diverse effect they would hope for. Other notable attendees included: Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and the State Minister for Defence Abdul Qayoom Khan Jatoi.
Cancellation of IDEAS 2010
On 15 October 2010, the Director General of DEPO issued a statement cancelling IDEAS, citing "devastating floods that effected 22 million people and resulted in loss of valuable lives and property" as the reason.
Despite cancellation of the event exhibitors were guaranteed their deposit refunds and offered, should they wish to exhibit in 2012, the same rates as provided in 2010.
During the 'soft-launch' for IDEAS 2012 Prime Minister Gilani made further reference to the disappointment of the event being cancelled. According to The International News, "he said the steady graph of IDEAS and its success suffered a slight dip, when, IDEAS-2010 had to be cancelled at the eleventh hour due to the unprecedented and devastating floods in the country."
"However, we are back in the business with renewed zeal and zest."
Build up to IDEAS 2012
On 15 September 2011, 11 months after the previous IDEAS was cancelled due to force majeure Badar Expo Solutions were assigned the contract, by DEPO, to resume the series for 2012 and 2014. The event, planned at the Karachi Expo Centre on 7–11 November, will see an enlargened seminar aspect focusing on tri-services military collateral, equipment and security services.
A 'soft-launch' for IDEAS 2012 was held at the Pakistan National Council of Arts in Islamabad on 30 March. Importantly, the event resumed IDEAS' tradition of full establishment-backing with the proceedings inaugurated by Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani; Senior Minister for Defence Production and Industries Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi; Federal Minister for Defence, Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar; Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Khalid Shahmeem Wynne; the Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani; and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt amongst many other Ministers, Diplomats and Industry representatives.
The DG DEPO, Major General Tahir Ashraf Khan, stated that the exhibition would be bigger in size than ever before and according to Associated Press of Pakistan, with still 8 months until the event launches, "60 percent of space allocated for IDEAS 2012 ha[d] already been booked [with] Turkey, China, Germany and France [booking] larger spaces to display their defence equipment." Khan also predicted that over 2000 weapons systems would be on display that year. 
Prime Minister Gilani signified the core tenet of the exhibition by stating that Pakistan will continue to "develop her military potential that guarantees peace with honour and dignity," furthermore according to The Nation, he said the country has significantly developed indigenous capabilities for producing sophisticated weapon systems and equipment.
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