KARACHI, May 20 (Alliance News): Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday said the multi-dimensional cooperation between Pakistan and Turkey in the areas of defence, foreign policy and public welfare was touching new heights of friendship for the benefit of the two peoples.
Addressing here at the launch of PNS Badr – the third ship under the framework of Turkey’s National Ship Project (MİLGEM), the prime minister said the cooperation between Pakistan Navy and the Turkish defence companies would lead to further strengthening of relations between the two brotherly countries.
The ceremony held at the Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works was attended by Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Amjad Khan Niazi and a large number of naval officers from Pakistan and Turkey.
In July 2018, the Pakistan Navy signed a contract for the acquisition of four MILGEM-class ships with Turkey’s state-run defence firm ASFAT. According to the plan, two corvettes are to be built in Turkey and the next two are to be built in Pakistan, which also involves technology transfer.
PM Sharif said the launch of PNS Badr would enhance the maritime activities at the Karachi Port and Port Qasim, thus leading to the development of financial and industrial progress.
He said the launch of the ship was a “moment of pride for the entire Pakistani nation and the naval forces of the two countries” and appreciated the efforts of the Naval Chief, his team and the defence minister.
He said the government of Pakistan was committed to expanding multifarious infrastructure to ensure economic connectivity in the country and emphasized that cooperation with Turkey would yield positive results.
He lauded Turkey for always being a great supporter of the sovereignty of Pakistan.
He said the ongoing China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was set to translate regional connectivity and expressed confidence that a trilateral arrangement with the inclusion of Turkey could prove beneficial for the people in the region.
The prime minister termed Turkey and Pakistan as ‘one nation living in two countries’ and emphasized that even before the creation of Pakistan, the Muslims of the sub-continent supported the cause of their Turkish brethren.
He recalled that then Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his spouse Emine Erdogan visited the flood-hit areas of Pakistan and the latter also donated a necklace for them.
Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Amjad Khan Niazi said the defence ties between Pakistan and Turkey were witnessing the development and hoped that the time would see further collaboration for the benefit of the two sides.
The message of Turkish President Erdogan was screened on the occasion where he assured Pakistan that Turkey would provide all support needed to strengthen Pakistan’s military infrastructure.
President Erdogan said the deliveries of the ships, which would be able to perform all kinds of military duties from air defence to submarine defence, would be made at six-month intervals starting from August 2023.
With an emphasis on the deep-rooted historical ties between Turkey and Pakistan, Erdogan said the project was one of the most concrete and recent examples of it, voicing hope for the project to be “a harbinger of greater cooperation.”
He said Pakistan is the country with the most strategic location in South Asia. “Throughout history, this region has been the apple of the world’s eye with its ancient culture and wealth. Pakistan and its people have a special place for us.”
Erdogan also emphasized the necessity of providing all means of support to strengthen the military infrastructure of Pakistan, “whose security, stability and prosperity we consider equal to ours.”
The other vessel of the project, named Kaibar, is to be launched in September in Istanbul, he said.
According to Turkish news agency Anadolu, the MILGEM vessels are 99 meters (325 feet) long with a displacement capacity of 24,00 tons and can move at a speed of 29 nautical miles. The anti-submarine combat frigates can be hidden from the radar.
In October 2019, Erdogan, along with then-Chief of Pakistan Navy Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, had cut the metal plate of the first MILGEM Ada class corvette during a ceremony in Istanbul.
Turkey is one of the 10 countries in the world which can build, design, and maintain warships using its national capabilities.