China and Pakistan signed an agreement to boost defence cooperation to help the Pakistan Army in Rawalpindi on Monday

"An MoU was signed for enhancement of defence cooperation and capacity building of Pakistan Army," the Pakistan Army said.

China has deepened defence ties with Pakistan over the years. As the announcement of the defence deal was being made, the Air Forces of China and Pakistan on Monday began joint exercise code named ‘Shaheen-VIII’.

The joint exercises conducted alternately in each other's country are aimed at improving training standards. The current drill is the eight in a series of air exercises between the two countries.

Pakistan Accounted For 2.8 Per Cent of Global Arms Imports

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), of the 10 largest importers in 2013–17, half were in Asia and Oceania which included India, China, Australia, Pakistan and Indonesia.

Interestingly, Pakistan accounted for 2.8 per cent of global arms imports in 2013–17.

China was the largest arms supplier to Pakistan in 2008–12 and 2013–17, the report said.

Pakistan’s Arms Imports Rose From 45 Per Cent In 2008–12

Although the volume of China’s arms exports to Pakistan remained roughly the same in both periods, its share of Pakistan’s arms imports rose from 45 per cent in 2008–12 to 70 per cent in 2013–17 due to the overall decrease in Pakistan’s arms imports between those periods, SIPRI said.

USA Reduces Military Aid To Pakistan

In 2008–12, Pakistan received substantial military aid from the USA, including 28 combat aircraft and five maritime patrol aircraft.

As relations between the two countries deteriorated in 2013–17 (due to US perceptions that Pakistan was not fully committed to combating the Taliban), the USA reduced its military aid, and US arms exports to Pakistan fell by 76 per cent compared with 2008–12, the peace institute said in its report.

China, US And Russia Major Arms Supplier To Pak

The SIPRI report said that China delivered major arms to 48 countries in 2013–17. Pakistan was the main recipient (35 per cent), as it has been for all five-year periods since 1991.

Pakistan, in fact, was one of the principal arms importer in the world with 4.9 per cent of arms trade between 2008–12 with China, the United States and Russia being its main suppliers.

China Dominant Arms Supplier To Pak

In the period between 2008 to 2012, China was the dominant arms supplier to Pakistan contributing 70 per cent to its stockpiles with the United States falling far behind at 12 per cent and Russia taking 5.7 per cent of the arms pie for India's neighbour.

China, Pakistan Friendship Linked To CPEC

China's arms trade with Pakistan is also linked with its ambitious multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) deal and Communist Party's One Belt, One Road Initiative(BRI).

The CPEC project connects several Chinese trade routes to Pakistan's Gwadar port.

China has even deployed some parts of its forces to secure the area, reports say.

However, law enforcement has become a major hurdle for Pakistani forces at Gwadar with the locals in the area feeling left out in mega Chinese projects and the mega deal unable to create as many jobs as the Pakistan government expected.

Imran Khan Threatens India

As India-Pakistan tensions escalate, Indian officials are keeping a tab on how China-Pakistan defence relations pan out.

In a televised address to the nation on Monday, Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan threatened India with "nuclear" consequences in the event of war.

Even though an all-out war may never happen but the balance of power in the arms race in the Indian subcontinent continues unabated.